Students go to Columbus City Council to ask for safe sidewalks

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Refugee Road on the east side of Columbus is busy – and before the first and after the last bells ring of the school day at Independence High School, students and faculty say vehicles aren’t the only ones frequenting the road.

“Students are supposed to be safe at school and supposed to be safe coming to school,” says social studies teacher Roderick Von Watson Jr., who is teaching his first year at Independence.

But because of sidewalks, or the lack thereof, he and others aren’t sure those students who walk to school are safe – and they want to curb the issue before an accident happens.

“They’re actually walking along the road, inches from where cars are passing by,” says Martha McFerran, who works both at Independence and Walnut Ridge High School. “This is a life and death matter.”

In 2010, a student at Walnut Ridge was struck and killed by a car while walking to school. A student was struck and killed near Briggs High School in 2012.

“To prevent that for us, we’re trying to get sidewalks sooner than later,” says Nasiara Jones, a junior at Independence who presented the issue to Columbus City Council on Monday night.

Shayanna Hinkle-Moore, a sophomore, also presented with Jones. The two say they have received positive feedback from multiple members of city council. As part of a project assigned to them by Mr. Watson, they’re hoping to gather the support needed to finally get the project started and prevent an accident before it ever happens.

“There have been improvements at Walnut Ridge, at Briggs after terrible accidents,” McFerran adds. “We don’t want to see an accident in order to make these changes.”

McFerran told NBC4 that officials they spoke with estimate every mile of sidewalk would cost approximately $1M.

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