HOMEWOOD, AL (WBRC) - If you go for a Saturday morning drive in Homewood, chances are you are going to see someone running. Many of those runners use the Hollywood Bridge over U.S. Highway 280, but it's a safety concern when they do, there is barely enough room for cars to squeeze by.
The bridge connects Homewood to Mountain Brook, but is so narrow there is no room for a sidewalk or bike lane. Now city councilors are working on a plan to change that.
"People use this very regularly on foot and on bicycle. A lot of people don't realize that," says Homewood city councilor Jennifer Andress. "I am the former president of the Birmingham track club. Every Saturday morning 200 runners come to the track shack, and they line up at the track shack and they go out run many miles. For example, this weekend is the Mercedes marathon weekend, they have been training for Mercedes since October and they have run many miles over this bridge and it's very narrow and very dangerous."
The bridge is actually in the jurisdiction of the city of Birmingham. The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham studied the bridge and gave it a failing grade for meeting standards during peak traffic hours. Planners have come up with three different options to add pedestrian access, including building a separate pedestrian bridge.
Homewood City councilors Jennifer Andress and Peter Wright are spearheading the efforts, and will be meeting with the planning board next week to discuss how the plans could impact the Homewood side of the bridge.
"We've got some issues as far as a sidewalk leading up to where the bridge would be. We need to nail out those details moving forward. We need to be sensitive with the cemetery that's there," says Andress.
The project will take a lot of collaboration between Homewood, Mountain Brook, the city of Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Transportation. It will also take a lot of money, the proposed plans range from $1.4 to $3.87 million.
"We are going to have to look at funding, obviously we are going to need help from the federal govt on this with grants," says Andress "I do think we are still several years away from a completion, but we are moving. Which is more than I could say a year ago. A year ago we were dead. At least we are moving forward."