It hasn’t escaped many students’ attention that the stairs to the Route 9 footbridge, which always seemed precarious, are blocked off because the concrete has begun to disintegrate. A whole step has fallen off. Even the support beams appear not to be secure.
The safety of the footbridge is undeniably a concern for students, because it seems to be crumbling under their feet.
What’s worse, there are no alternatives that provide any safer means of crossing Route 9. There are places where students might cross, but they are extremely dangerous.
In fact, an FSU student, Colleen Kelly, tragically died two years ago crossing in the very spot at which many students still cross the street.
Two years ago.
And yet, our options to cross Route 9 are more dangerous than ever. A solution should have been found and put into place immediately. It absolutely should have been done by now.
Route 9 is a highway students need to cross, sometimes daily, for any number of reasons, including to go to their cars, where parking is sometimes assigned by the school.
Despite the desire of many students to blame FSU for the disrepair of the bridge and the lack of alternative crossing options, it is not within the jurisdiction of campus administration to make these changes. We cannot simply push our administrators to take action to fix the footbridge or create an alternate way to cross the street safely and expect results.
However, we can, beyond our respective roles as students, faculty, staff or administrators, but together as citizens of our state, demand the Massachusetts Department of Transportation takes responsibility for these dangerous conditions and create safe solutions.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said the department considered different plans for creating a safe crossing on this part of the roadway. The representative said the department decided on a crosswalk system which would include stop lights for the traffic, and that 25 percent of the new system will be planned by the spring.
Two years after a young woman’s death on this road, and one fourth of the planning for a better solution hasn’t even fully been planned yet. That is deplorable.
FSU students routinely receive emails from Dean of Students Melinda Stoops encouraging them to use the footbridge rather than other options, because it is the safer choice. But when the supposedly safer option is crumbling away, we are justified in being outraged and for demanding something better, immediately.
It may not technically be the administration’s responsibility to solve this problem, but it is their duty to put student safety first.
It is the duty of all of us to be engaged citizens of the state that is our home, active in advocating for our right for safe and convenient means of simply walking our streets.
Because it seems, right now, nothing is getting done any time soon.