Students concerned about safety of tunnel near where child was s - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Students concerned about safety of tunnel near where child was struck

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Tunnel near Capital Heights Middle School (Source: WSFA 12 News) Tunnel near Capital Heights Middle School (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Students use the tunnel Tuesday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Students use the tunnel Tuesday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
City workers make repairs inside the tunnel Tuesday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News) City workers make repairs inside the tunnel Tuesday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The day after a Montgomery child was critically injured after being hit by a vehicle on Atlanta Highway, city crews made repairs to a tunnel that goes under the same intersection.

City workers installed brighter lights and new light covers inside the tunnel shortly before students were released from nearby Capitol Heights Middle and Lee High schools Tuesday afternoon.

Also, when school was released Tuesday, school officials didn't give students any other option to cross the busy roadway, but still no adult supervision was in place inside the tunnel or on the opposite side.

Montgomery police say a child was struck while trying to cross four lanes of traffic at the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Federal Drive shortly before 3 p.m. Monday. Witnesses reported watching the child run in front of traffic and the driver of an oncoming SUV being unable to stop in time.

It's a frightening scene that viewers tell us is all too familiar in school zones around Montgomery.

According to students we spoke with Tuesday afternoon, it took a classmate being injured to get their attention.

An 8th grader at Capitol Heights Middle School told WSFA she's had plenty of close calls with traffic, but Tuesday she used the tunnel linking Ann Street to Atlanta Highway. The student said the tunnel was never an option for her before.

"People are down there asking people for money, fighting, smoking and all kinds of stuff," the student said.

This middle school student, like many, told us that until Monday they felt safer running across four lanes of speeding traffic than using the tunnel covered in graffiti and expletives.

When asked would they use the tunnel consistently if city made repairs, and it was monitored by teachers, they overwhelmingly said yes.

Montgomery Public Schools Communication Director Tom Salter explained the crosswalk is the safest option for students.

"There are no easy solutions to the problem. I know that every possibility we can imagine has been discussed," Salter said.

Whether a child uses the tunnel or crosses at the intersection, police say the situation Monday was avoidable.  They say fixing this ongoing problem is a two-way street -- drivers and also pedestrians need to be aware and responsible.

"Anytime you have high congestion of traffic around the schools or other business avenues and you have a situation where people crossing the street we always encourage the basic safety to use crosswalk when possible be alert watch for traffic make eye contact with drivers before crossing if you can," Sgt. BJ Champlin said.

The school system along with Montgomery Police has been attempting to educate students on the dangers of illegally crossing this busy intersection.

In February, when WSFA 12 News first reported problems in school crossing areas, MPD and MPS worked together to place patrol officers in the streets around Capitol Heights Middle School and Lee High School to help students cross, as well as squad cars with speed cameras inside.  They also held school wide assemblies about school crossing safety.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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