LaFayette considers guardrails for downtown

Published 12:00 pm Friday, November 24, 2023

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At its meeting Monday, the city of LaFayette discussed installing a guardrail on the sidewalk of Alabama Avenue W downtown to keep people from falling over. 

City Council Member Toney Thomas said some downtown business owners have complained that their customers have had near misses on the stoop. 

Steve White, co-owner of the Hometown Mercantile on the Square, said during the meeting that a 78-year-old customer nearly fell off the sidewalk while walking backward out of the storefront.

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At its highest height, the sidewalk is raised 32-33 inches above the road, according to Street and Sanitation Superintendent George Green. 

“It’s been 70 years, and nobody’s fallen yet,” said City Council member David Ennis during the meeting. 

City Engineer Allen Tucker said that is beyond what OSHA considers requiring a handrail. Though the city isn’t required to follow OSHA guidelines, City Attorney Mac Tucker said the fact could be seen as a reasonable standard. 

Green said they have investigated the area and begun to get estimates for guard railing from Alabama Guardrailing. After investigating the issue, Green said he saw it as a danger that needs to be addressed. For about 20 feet of railing, Green said one estimate was about $30,000.

He said it would likely take about two months to get the guardrails installed upon approval from the city council. The city council discussed putting a temporary warning boundary in place in the meantime. 

Green also investigated parts of Hospital Street in LaFayette and said there are parts of the road where there’s a safety concern and the guardrails are needed. Green said that in some areas there’s only about a foot of shoulder from the road. The project on that road is approximately $29,500, which includes installation. 

Green said they’re also looking into adding a handrail in the middle of the steps up to the sidewalk to make it more handicap accessible. 

City Council member Michael Ellis said First Avenue NW was also in need of guardrails. Green said they have not yet investigated that street.