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Bridge access should be restricted, not closed

Feb. 8, 2001

At tonight's Student Congress meeting, members will vote on whether to recommend that the Texas Department of Transportation close the pedestrian bridge at Eighth Street and Interstate 35. We believe this bridge should not be completely closed because many people rely on this walkway to get between work and their residences. Instead, Student Congress should vote to recommend that the bridge remain open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., only closing it during the late-night and early-morning hours.

Recent criminal activity and a concern for safety have prompted Student Congress to consider recommending the bridge's closing.

However, we believe maintaining the quick and easy access that the bridge provides to students who work at the various restaurants and Baylor employees and students who live on the other side of the interstate is a major priority for the Baylor community.

Keeping the walkway open is a must for these individuals who must walk to and from Baylor's campus. Otherwise, these people may be forced either to cross dangerous traffic in order to get to school or work or may be unable to make the walk at all due to physical limitations.

In a perfect world, the bridge would be left open at all hours. But safety is indeed a concern. By gating off the pedestrian bridge during the more dangerous night time hours, the bridge would be free of criminal activity and vandalism part of the time, while also protecting the safety of pedestrian users of the walkway from such crimes.

And to guard against crime while the walkway is open during the days, a security camera, a security guard or increased patrolling of the area around the bridge could help. Maintaining a safer bridge may require more resources and effort, but if the bridge is to remain open, it should stay safe. And since it is vital to its users, the walkway should remain open at least part of the time.

Not only would totally closing off the bridge pose a problem for people who need to get to and from campus, but it also would not send a good message to the city of Waco. Baylor-Waco relations are already strained as it is. The last thing Baylor needs to do is symbolically and literally cut itself off from the rest of Waco.

If a road or park is not safe, it should not be simply closed. Rather, it should be made safer. This is what should be done in the case of the pedestrian walkway over I-35.