Students dodge traffic going home from school

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April 30, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Caught on tape and only on News 12, students crossing a dangerous intersection.

Parents say they couldn't believe their eyes when they saw it for themselves...and the school board says it's not their responsibility.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office says the intersection of Gordon Highway and Deans Bridge Road is one of Augusta's most dangerous intersections, with the highest number of accidents.

But students are forced to walk across it every day. For some students, those eight lanes of traffic are the only way home from school.

With no sidewalks and no crossing guards, Bungalow Alternative School students are left to fend for themselves.

We saw two students make it across one side of the highway safely...but when they tried cross the next four lanes, a minivan came within inches of hitting them.

"It made me sick," said Greg Collier with Parents United. "Most people wouldn't even let their pets cross the street, but they're allowing our children to cross the street?"

We waited another 20 minutes, and it wasn't long before more students tried it.

Some made it across with ease, and others cut it close...a little too close.

"We can't be reactive when a child's life is at stake," Collier said.

But the school system tells News 12 it's not their problem, because the students are being sent to the Alternative School for disciplinary reasons. They say it's the parents' responsibility to get their child safely to and from school.

We decided to show our tape to Richmond County school board member Eloise Curtis.

"You don't think it's the school's responsibility to make sure kids are safe?" we asked her.

"We are," she said. "That's what we're doing. We wish we didn't have any kids at the Alternative School."

"We need to hold them accountable," Collier said. "When the guy gets hit and dies they hire a crossing guard then? It's too late."

Good news though. The Department of Transportation says they do have plans to make some pedestrian upgrades at this intersection and plan on putting in a crosswalk. They just don't know how soon it will be.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is responsible for hiring school crossing guards. They say if it continues to be a problem and they get more complaints from parents, they will take another look at it.

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