MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — A high-trafficked road will be closed for 8 weeks to finish the construction of a sky-bridge between Sparkman High School and Sparkman 9th Grade Academy.
For years, traffic on Ford Chapel Road is constantly stopped or altered so students can walk from one school to the other.
Tim Hall, spokesman for Madison County School says the road was originally designed to be an access to Jeff Road and after the sky-bridge is completed, the road will be used for its original purpose.
Hall and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Brent Patterson agree that though the closure is an inconvenience for many, the project will provide safety for the students.
“When you’ve got kids that are having to cross a busy street like Ford Chapel Road is, I believe it enhances a risk with our kids,” says Patterson. “So with this sky-bridge going across from both schools… I believe it makes them feel good, the administrators, the teachers, and the parents around to know that it will be much safer.”
Patterson also adds that motorists are not to drive through the parking lots of either school.
Because of the closure, residents living in the area will be forced to find and drive new routes. Nelson Olinger lives in the area and says he has two choices. “I go out to 53 on the north or I go south and pick up Nick Davis or something and go down Wall Triana.”
Another resident, Jeanette Oelkers, says they only have two main roads to get into town. “Jeff Road and Wall Triana Highway and that’s going to divert us completely out of the way.”
The biggest issue is the added time to the residents’ commute. “I would say at least 20 minutes because cutting across University — it’s full of traffic too,” says Oelkers. Olinger says it will add 10 minutes to his route every morning and every evening.
Everyone agrees that when the construction is over, the sky-bridge project will keep the students safer and the drivers’ commute quicker.
“I do think it’s a good idea because a lot of times when we go out in the afternoon… there’s all kind of traffic having to be stopped to allow students to come across,” says Olinger.
“You never knew when the kids were going to be crossing the road. I guess if this is going to fix that, it’s a good thing,” says Oelker.
A portion of Ford Chapel Road will be closed from January 18 – March 20.