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Freshly-painted bike lanes

LINDEN, Ala. –  Recent street improvements in Linden, Alabama are much more than fresh coats of paint. These improvements now provide access and safety for the town’s residents.

Thanks to grant funding provided by the High Obesity Program Cooperative Agreement (HOP 1809), street striping, bike lanes, safety signage and a school bus loading zone near Linden Elementary School were added to Shiloh Street. HOP 1809 is a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University.

Pam Stenz, Marengo County Extension coordinator, and Tammy Glass, SNAP-Ed educator for Marengo and Choctaw counties, paved the way for the safety improvements. To get the job done correctly, they met with a coalition of community stakeholders and worked with an active transportation design company.

How It Started

A group of city employees, residents, business owners and religious leaders formed a community coalition once they knew Linden received the grant. Their goal was to create walkable and bikeable pathways to connect residents to healthy food resources from everyday destinations. Their solution? Hire the experts to map out a plan.

Stenz said they hired Alta Planning and Design to outline feasible projects within Linden. Alta is a transportation company that helps to create active, healthy communities through planning, landscape architecture, engineering and educational programs.

“They were the experts,” Stenz said. “They thought about things we would have never thought about.”

Stenz and Glass knew focusing on Shiloh Street was the place to start. The city of Linden owns Shiloh Street, which runs parallel to Main Street. Shiloh Street is also home to the elementary school, a bank and many homes. One of the goals was to safely connect Shiloh Street to Main Street with sidewalks for better access to the grocery store, the Marengo County Courthouse and local restaurants.

Putting Down Paint

One of the first projects was to stripe Shiloh Street, which had no markings other than a faded crosswalk. Glass said the road is wide, which sped up traffic and discouraged cyclists from being on the road.

Glass said Alta’s input was invaluable because they had information about how far from the curb lanes needed to be, how wide should they be, what parts of the street can’t be painted, what signage is required near a school and how far apart signage needed to be.

“They knew all the regulations from the state that may have taken us months to figure out,” Glass said.

In another effort to ensure spending was proactive, the Extension office conducted a traffic study to measure traffic from motorists and pedestrians. Glass said they learned many residents bypass Main Street to get to the bank, high school or another part of downtown.

Eventually, Shiloh Street received about a mile and a half of striping — adding bike lanes, center lines, safety signage and bus lane for students to load and unload.

Stenz said the result was immediate. The new striping informed motorists to stay on the right side of the road. Also, since the bike lines narrowed the street, traffic slowed down.

“The safety aspect of the striping was apparent right away,” Stenz said. “Pedestrians felt safer walking on the sidewalk, and those who ride bikes had a place to be in the flow of traffic.”

Providing Lights

Pictured is Sixth Street in Linden, Alabama. This road connects Shiloh Street and Main Street. The city of Linden has committed to constructing a sidewalk for safer pedestrian travel. Once the sidewalk is complete, the Marengo County Extension office will work to place three solar lights along this path.

Pictured is Sixth Street in Linden, Alabama. This road connects Shiloh Street and Main Street. The city of Linden has committed to constructing a sidewalk for safer pedestrian travel. Once the sidewalk is complete, the Marengo County Extension office will work to place three solar lights along this path.

Another Alta suggestion in the Linden plan was to install lighting along Shiloh Street and downtown. The Extension office ordered 10 solar-powered lights with the vision of installing lights all through the downtown. However, they quickly learned there wasn’t enough direct sunlight because of the overhang of some buildings on Main Street to light it adequately.

Now, four lights sit on Shiloh Street and three on Main Street in front of Papa’s Foods. The remaining three lights are for Sixth Street, designated to connect Shiloh to Main Street. Eventually, construction of  a sidewalk between Shiloh and Main Street will begin. Once the sidewalk is complete on Sixth Street, the Stenz and Glass will work to place the light.

Makes A Big Difference

Linden Mayor Gwendolyn Rogers said the work by the Extension office gives Shiloh Street a different feeling.

“If you come through there at night, it makes a huge difference in what it looks like,” she said. “It gives it a big-town feel.”

Timothy Thurman, superintendent of Linden City Schools, said the striping does more than add safety for the students.

“Presentation means something,” he said. “People can see there’s been an investment into the town, which makes people feel better about being a part of something.”

Thurman said in terms of safety and student pickup and drop off, this has been the easiest of his 19-year career.

“It’s huge to see somebody outside of the school identify a need and take action,” he said.

More Information

For more information about Alabama Extension, visit www.aces.edu. To contact Stenz, call 334-295-5959 or email her at stenzpa@aces.edu To contact Glass, call 334-295-5959 or email her at tgg0005@aces.edu.

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