Monday night, Athens Independent School District officials and Athens City Council members debated closing Dul Averiett between Owen and Royall streets.
Superintendent Blake Stiles said the district was asking for the street to be closed for safety reasons and to help with the refurbishing of Bruce Field.
“Dul Averiett is a highway right in the middle of a school zone, and we have kids that walk across that street all day long from class to class,” AISD Superintendent Blake Stiles said. “And at night time, if you have ball games or events, it’s a circus.”
Officials said the road saw approximately 3,000 vehicles during the week and 1,500 on weekends.
City Manager Philip Rodriguez said the police and fire departments ran tests and worst case scenario for response to an emergency call would be 120 seconds with that portion of the road closed.
Several on the council were concerned about what impact closing the road would have on city traffic, with Councilman Charles Elliott saying he would have to see a traffic study before he would vote yes.
“Closing a street that’s that wide and that important to Athens … its going to take a traffic study to get me to vote for it,” said Elliott. “Honestly, somebody is going to have to do a traffic study for where this traffic is going to go and what you’re going to do with it.”
One councilman fully supporting the idea was Tres Winn.
“If blocking off one block and fencing things off can keep one person – child, adult, me, you or anybody else – from getting run over because we walk out from behind a car and they’re not going 20 at nine o’clock at night, I’m all for it,” said Winn. “To me it is a non-issue. The good is going to far outweigh going around a block.”
The city is expected to schedule a public forum to get citizen input before making a decision.
— Michael V. Hannigan/Henderson County Now