Athens City leaders are working to complete sidewalk corridor and make SportsPlex area safer

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 9:41 AM CDT
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ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - Athens leaders are trying to make the city more walkable and safe. City Engineer Michael Griffin says they finished 90% of the pathways connecting the hubs of the town but they have one key area left.

They want to build a bridge over Swan Creek, connecting the Athens High School and the SportsPlex, giving students a safe, walkable route to sports games and practices. This would also connect large apartment complexes, like Oakleigh Apartments, to downtown Athens.

“The primary focus is to convey those folks who live in all the apartments in the higher density of town that typically do walk is get them back and forth to those areas where they can enjoy all the other benefits that most other Athenians have who drive a car,” explains Griffin.

In the most recent CDBG survey, the public made a resounding request, Athens residents wanted to see more ways to get around the city, they didn’t want to just rely on their cars.

Plus, Griffin says building a bridge over Swan Creek helps make the area safer. One person fell into the creek while trying to go to the other side and another person was hit by a car when they were trying to avoid the creek.

“We had one individual hit on Elm Street,” explains Griffin. “They were walking along the bridge deck, along the state route and they didn’t have a way to cross the creek except walking on the bridge so that was a big concern safety is probably our number one concern or priority to get those projects in front of us faster.”

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting LIVE from Athens on sidewalk expansion.

Griffin and other city leaders are trying to secure state funds to finish the pathways. They applied for a $1.6 million ATRIP grant for the second time this year. They expect to hear an answer by the end of the year.

If it is approved, the project is expected to take a year and a half to two years to complete.

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