Public Safety studies school traffic issue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

U.S. Jones is an accident waiting to happen, resident Barbara James stated in a letter to the editor sent to The Demopolis Times.

“Every afternoon, Monday through Friday, between 2:45 p.m. and 3 p.m., I cringe and wait for it to happen,” she wrote. “I wait for someone’s child to get hit or for several vehicles to collide. It’s bound to happen.”

In her letter, James says she worries about the children crossing the street on Jackson Street, and said on more than a few occasions she has witnessed cars lining up “at least three deep,” blocking the street and even driving on the sidewalk to get around cars parked to await the release of school children.

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Demopolis City Schools director of community education Barbara Hill, though stationed at Westside, said safety at all the schools has always been a concern.

“I’ve been worried about safety for 35 years,” she said. “We’ve been trying to get police at the schools to direct traffic – sometimes the police come, sometimes they don’t – finally, they’re starting to come.”

Hill said the police appear to be making a more concerted effort to be at the schools, and Demopolis Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel said safety is his number one priority.

“During that time frame (after school) we try to cover all four schools, but we’re also answering calls, so there are times we don’t have anyone there,” he said.

Manuel said he is looking into the problem at U.S. Jones, and made a trip to the school Tuesday afternoon to assess the situation. However, he said, the problem is not one that will be solved overnight.

“I won’t be able to assess the situation in a few minutes,” he said. “I won’t be able to go out there in one day and say here’s the problem and here’s how to fix it.”

In the meantime, those riding down Jackson Street, past the elementary school, are urged to use caution.

“It’s just a matter of time before (an accident) happens,” James writes. “… and when it happens, just remember, I told

you so.”