Sidewalk safety concerns

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COLUMBIA - Safety concerns are a big issue for the new veterans' home being built on Business Loop 70.

"We identified a transportation safety issue at our new campus that has to do with the location being on the east Business Loop, where there are no sidewalks, no lighting at night, and the nearest bus stop is four-tenths of a mile away, actually on Paris Road," Welcome Home Inc. CEO Sarah Grim said. 

Grim said, in order to get to the nearest bus stop, one must walk along the road to the stop light at the intersection of Old Highway 63 and Business Loop in order to cross the street and get to the nearest one.

She said the problem arises when veterans in either wheelchairs or those using crutches have to maneuver along the uneven pavement on the side of the road.

The uneven walkways make it dangerous for everyone using the road and not just veterans, Grim said.

"There's multiple reasons why you use sidewalks," she said. "Not just for homeless veterans or our clients, but for anyone to walk up and down the street for safety and to prevent them from intermingling with traffic."

She said it is important to get lights to go along with the sidewalk, because there are currently none along Business Loop. She said some veterans need to travel at night and it is unsafe for them to walk in the dark when drivers may not be able to see them.

Grim said Welcome Home Inc. is hoping to get is a closer bus stop. She said some veterans must limit their activities to daytime, because of the lack of nearby, well-lighted access.

"Our homeless veterans use public transportation to get to medical appointments, to get to jobs, and we want them to have safety of a sidewalk, lighting, and a nearby bus stop with a shelter," Grim said.

She said the company has been working with the Pedestrian Safety Task Force to make changes happen by the time construction begins next year. She said the task force has done a good job of helping the company complete a plan to ensure safety for future residents.