HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — Neighbors are concerned about safety for children walking to and from Homewood Middle School because of an inconsistent sidewalk along Valley Avenue.
There is one stretch of sidewalk across from the school. However, the sidewalk does not stretch the entire length of the road.
CBS 42 spotted multiple children walking close to the busy road during Thursday’s dismissal.
“I’ve seen a few close calls with after school children,” Sha’kinah Mays said.
Many of the kids live in apartments across from the school, and some are able to use the complex property to get home. Others, walk along Valley Avenue.
“Pretty dangerous since we don’t have a sidewalk that fully comes down the full road here,” said Mays.
A Homewood Police officer helps children get safely across the road in a crosswalk. A section of sidewalk on the other side has the overgrown brush that makes it difficult for pedestrians to keep from creeping close to the road.
“It’s kind of hard to really walk through,” said Mays.
Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer told CBS 42 that Alabama Department of Transportation grading requirements might make adding some sidewalks difficult, especially along areas off a hill. He said the city is in discussions to try and improve the walkability near the school.
A portion of the land is in the city limits of Birmingham. Councilor Valerie Abbot represents the area and said she has not received any complaints from her constituents. She said she would be open to having any conversation that might improve safety.
Homewood Councilor Britt Thames, who represents Ward 1 – Place 2, told CBS 42 that finishing the current stretch of sidewalk is a high priority. She said it could be a year or so until the project is completed.
Pedestrians not having a sidewalk is only part of the problem. Drivers speeding through the school zone further increase dangers for students on their way to school.
CBS 42 spoke with Homewood Police and a motor scout outside of Homewood Middle School. In a matter of minutes, our crews watched police give two tickets for speeding in the school zone.
Motor Scout Jonathan Whisenhung caught one woman going more than double the speed limit in the school zone. During the traffic stop, the woman admitted that she did that speed through the zone every morning.
Seargent Justin Self says the combination of speeding drivers and no sidewalks means many close calls for students walking to school.
“It takes a kid tripping over an untied shoe, chasing a piece of paper that gets blown out of their backpack and somebody flying by,” Sgt. Self said. “All it takes is half a second and it could change someone’s life forever.”
The Seargent says he’s witnessed some of those moments himself with students he’s watched grow up.
“It is funny. You start to see them for their first year at the middle school and you watch them age and grow up through the years.”
With another school year underway, it’s important to pay attention to school zone signs and make sure you hit the brakes.