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Rail lines divide Southernside–footbridge could bring community together

footbridge
State House Representative Chandra Dillard. Dillard also serves as director of community relations at Furman.

Nearly a quarter century in the making, a new pedestrian footbridge is set to begin construction Oct. 14 on Hampton Avenue in Greenville’s Southernside neighborhood. In 1994, the bridge spanning nine rail lines along Hampton Avenue was closed to vehicular traffic due to safety concerns. In 2012, it was demolished by the state. Among other problems, the space left behind makes for a difficult choice as residents can choose to walk 150 treacherous feet across the rails to the other side, or walk 1.5 miles around the tracks. Many choose the former, and in 2018, Ernestine Dixon was struck and killed by a train on her way to see a friend.

Furman Director of Community Relations and State House Representative Chandra Dillard (District 23) was involved in the 2013 complaint against the state for the bridge’s closure and later destruction. Bolstering the complaint was survey data from Furman Sociology Professor Ken Kolb that showed the actions of the state were not in line with the desires of the residents. “For me, it’s really about economic mobility justice,” said Dillard.  The Greenville News covered the story.

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