Cars drive under the pedestrian bridge across East Campus Road in Athens, Georgia, on Monday, October 15, 2018. The bridge is permanently closed, causing an issue for students who park in the lot E12 on one end of the bridge and want to cross to campus safely. (Photo/Caroline Barnes, caroline.barnes3710@gmail.com)

If you ride the East Campus Express bus on a weekday morning, you may see people rushing across East Campus Road from lot E12 while cars drive by.

The other pedestrian crossing at E12, the Field Street pedestrian bridge, was permanently closed on Aug. 24. The university has asked all permit holders to use the Cedar Street crosswalk, which is the only other pedestrian crossing on the stretch of road along E12, said UGA public relations manager Rebecca Beeler,

E12 permit holder and graduate student in microbiology Flavia Costa said crossing at the Cedar Street traffic light significantly lengthens her commute, as she has to walk from one end of the lot to the other to access the crosswalk.

“For graduate students in a sense, time is money. You’re working such long hours that when you’re not working, every minute matters. To me it’s considered an expense,” Costa said.

Two months after the bridge’s permanent closing, students are still facing challenges.

Although UGA has asked permit holders to cross at Cedar Street, Carol Cotton, director of the Traffic Safety Research and Evaluation Group at UGA, said the bridge closing poses safety risks to students despite the existence of the Cedar Street crosswalk.

“What we know from past experience … is that people will cross that street in the way that is most efficient for them,” Cotton said.

Cotton said a pedestrian bridge is the best option for protecting pedestrians, while the second best option would be an activated pedestrian crosswalk light similar to the one on South Lumpkin Street between Boggs Hall and Church Hall.

According to an email to E12 permit holders from associate vice president of UGA Facilities Management Division Ralph Johnson, UGA also closed the Field Street bridge on April 18 for “structural evaluation and maintenance” and kept it closed until May 8 due to “inclement weather.” However, Johnson said the bridge was closed in April to make “preliminary repairs to the safety rails and stair treads, not specifically due to a weather related event.”

The bridge was reopened once “the original safety concerns had been addressed” until UGA permanently closed it after further inspection.

UGA has no plans to replace or repair the Field Street bridge, which was constructed in the early 1960s, Beeler said.

“Because the condition of the existing bridge structural elements have reached a state that there is not a safe repair solution that would make the bridge structurally sound, the bridge has been permanently closed,” Beeler said in an email.

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