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A group of people installing a crosswalk at Eutaw Primary School in Greene County, Alabama.

EUTAW, Ala. — Significant safety and accessibility improvements are taking a Greene County elementary school to the next level. At Eutaw Primary School, a recent installation of new crosswalks and striping parking spots along Main Street was led by Thriving Communities — a program through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University. The program partnered with the Greene County Extension office and community volunteers for this project. Made possible by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High Obesity Program (HOP), this initiative is part of a bigger program to create safer and more accessible physical activity opportunities in rural communities.

Strategic Community Collaboration

Greene County — one of 12 Alabama counties to receive this grant funding — received help from the partnerships formed by Greene County Extension Coordinator, Doug Fulghum. By working with the mayor’s office, Eutaw Primary School, the local police department and other key sponsors, this project took a vital step forward in addressing community needs and improvements that benefit all residents.

“We believe the installation of the crosswalks will encourage more people in the community to use the available walking paths,” Fulghum said. “The new paths are safer and help our school children and the entire community be more active.”

Planning and Implementation

A group of people installing a crosswalk at Eutaw Primary School in Greene County, Alabama.Planning for the new crosswalks and parking spots began in October 2020. Partners then completed an Active Transportation Action Plan in September 2021 after a lot of community input, site visits and expert recommendations from Alta. Alta is a transportation company that specializes in planning, landscape architecture, engineering and educational programs.

The plan includes several low-cost, high-impact projects designed to increase safety and promote active lifestyles in Eutaw. Fulghum and other Extension employees worked with local officials and volunteers to find where crosswalks would best help the community.

“It was great to see everyone pitch in and get involved in this project,” Fulghum said. “We all saw the need and knew that this was something our community needed.”

Why Crosswalks and Parking?

Jeff LaMondia is an Auburn University civil and environmental engineering professor and state leader in the Thriving Communities program. He said there are practical reasons behind these installations.

“Crosswalks provide a visual cue to drivers to watch for pedestrians, improving safety for everyone in the area,” LaMondia said. “The new parking spaces not only offer convenience but also help slow down traffic, making our streets safer for residential use.”

The improvements involve high-quality, reflective thermoplastic materials. These materials ensure both visibility and durability. Unlike paint — which people commonly use for marking travel lanes, parking spaces and other road symbols — thermoplastic lasts longer. This makes it a more cost-effective choice for maintaining community roads.

A Community of Volunteers

Community volunteers played a key role in the installation process. Volunteers expertly measured and cut materials, cleaned the areas and used blowtorches to install the crosswalks. Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson, Regional Extension Agent Sanquenetta Thompson, volunteers from Alabama A&M University and several community members donated their time to install the crosswalks. Fulghum said it was easy and fun to do.

“The community really came together to make this project happen,” Fulghum said.

Sustainability and Advice for Future Projects

“We hope that as other improvements are needed, community leaders will recognize the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of these installations,” said Mitch Carter, an Alabama Extension administrator and state leader for Thriving Communities.

Carter’s advice for other communities is to start simple. Take observational walks to find potential problems and areas for improvement. It is also important to engage community members early in the process to make sure projects fit local needs.

“All of this can be achieved easily and effectively at the community level,” Carter said.

Community leaders expect the long-term impact of these changes in Eutaw to be significant. The improvements promote healthier lifestyles by encouraging more children to walk to school and more residents to engage in physical activities at the park. This project is a step forward in public health. It serves as a model for other areas that want to take steps toward safer, more active communities.

More Information

To learn more about nutrition and physical activity, visit www.LiveWellAlabama.com. There, you can find valuable resources, practical advice and insights to support your wellness journey. To learn more about creating a community plan for increasing safe walking and biking, visit AUPARTNERProgram.com.

For those looking to connect with others interested in a healthy lifestyle, consider following Live Well Alabama on social media. Their FacebookTwitter and Instagram platforms offer a space to share experiences, find inspiration and join a community focused on well-being.