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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Walking bridge?

  • It's something that's always been brought up whenever there's an accident.
    It has had strong support, but never came to fruition.
    But now the popularity of social media, and yet another accident, have sparked the discussion that a walking bridge should be built over U.S. 61 for the safety of Hannibal High School students looking to get to the fast food restaurants on the other side.
    But could it happen?
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  • It's something that's always been brought up whenever there's an accident.
    It has had strong support, but never came to fruition.
    But now the popularity of social media, and yet another accident, have sparked the discussion that a walking bridge should be built over U.S. 61 for the safety of Hannibal High School students looking to get to the fast food restaurants on the other side.
    But could it happen?
    Is it even possible?
    "It probably would be a good thing due to the fact they can cross up there at the light, but that's about the only place they have to cross," Hannibal Mayor Roy Hark said Tuesday.
    Discussions about a walking bridge became a topic of discussion via Facebook weeks ago and when a Hannibal High School student was hit by a truck last week, the discussion on the Courier-Post's Facebook page got into the mix of those expressing concern.
    "I've been told, not directly to me, but I've been told that a long time ago, people have talked about either a stop light or a walking bridge, long before I worked for the school district," Dana Ruhl, business manager for the Hannibal School District, said. "In my 13 years, I've never really had anybody call me, come by or anything — say you need to be doing something about that. We always stress to our kids to be careful leaving that lot and pulling out on McMaster's (U.S. 61). I'd never recommend to a kid to cross there, it's not a crosswalk, it's not designated as a crosswalk right now."
    If such a proposal became reality, the Missouri Department of Transportation would pretty much have the final say on everything. Their regulations would have to be met so the variety of vehicles traveling through Hannibal daily would still have access.
    "There's tractor-trailers, there's buses, trucks carrying oversized loads; maybe they got an 18-wheeler with a flatbed carrying a derrick or something," Hark said. "I don't know with the state right now, with it's money and resources, could afford to do it or would do it. That's something that can be proposed to them."
    Marisa Ellison, customer relations manager with MoDOT's Northeast District, said they're "open to the possibilities if someone were to approach us."
    "There's a lot to think about," she said. "Obviously we have major trucks that drive through there so there would have to be certain standards met. Right now, funding's not available. If there was a private entity that stepped up and said, 'We'll fund it,' then we would work with whoever that was to give them the standards. We would do it probably by permit."
    Even if an underground tunnel were built for students to walk underneath the highway, that too would have to be approved by MoDOT.
    Page 2 of 2 - "Because it's going under the roadway, it has to be built to certain standards so that it does not lessen the integrity of the road if it were to go under," Ellison said. "More than likely it would have to be built on state right-of-ways, we would have to work very closely with whoever is building it to make sure they're meeting our standards."
    In the meantime, Ruhl reiterates the school district encourages students to be safe and not cross from the high school parking lot, but up the road at the crosswalk light.
    "We want things to be safe for our kids. There's no doubt about it. We keep saying that the safety of our kids is one of our most important things that we push," Ruhl said. "If some one came into my office ... I would be more than happy for this office to sit down and have that conversation. Don't have a clue where it would go, because we don't own the street, we don't really own anything there to make anybody do anything. If somebody wanted to talk, I'm open to talk."
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