Bridging the gap

HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT)- “You hitting the trail tonight?”

Jeff Martinez’s question is a common one in Homewood. The city is a haven of sorts for runners, with plenty of sidewalks and jogging trails sprinkled throughout the municipality. “Running is one of the hallmarks of this area,” said State Representative Paul DeMarco. Martinez adds that drivers are used to seeing runners, so in turn, the expect runners.

There’s one barrier, however, that not even the most nimble of runners dares traverse: Highway 280. The most common route for crossing over the highway is Hollywood Boulevard, but not even that is a safe bet. “That bridge is always kind of sketchy,” said Martinez. ”It’s very narrow, there’s no shoulder; so, when cars are coming over and approaching you’ve got to pay attention.”

State Rep. DeMarco and the Homewood City Council are looking to alleviate that problem. A proposal is under consideration to build a pedestrian bridge connecting Homewood to Mountain Brook. The bridge would be just north of the current vehicular crossing. “Safety. It’s simple, real simple, and that’s the impetus behind this,” said State Rep. DeMarco. The hope is, part of the cost of the bridge would be taken care of with grant money from the state. The proposal calls for the rest to be split between Homewood and Mountain Brook. Both sides are open to the idea and are simply waiting for financial details to be hammered out.

State Rep. DeMarco envisions this project being a huge success. “You go out there [Hollywood Blvd.] any morning or any afternoon, and you’ll see a lot of runners, walkers, bicyclists. So, this bridge will get a lot of use, and it will encourage more use!” Martinez agrees, saying, “Runners are going to run that because they’ve been running it for years.”

The Homewood City Council will be discuss the proposal at the next regularly scheduled meeting, but there is no timetable for a vote.

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