CEE professor helps install new crosswalks near primary school in Alabama

Published: Jun 24, 2024 1:30 PM

By Dustin Duncan

Jeff LaMondia, a civil and environmental engineering professor, is once again helping Alabama communities address distinctive local active transportation needs.

LaMondia, in collaboration with the Auburn University Extension, has worked with community members in Eutaw to install new crosswalks and restripe parking spots near Eutaw Primary School in Greene County. 

Through the Live Well Alabama Thriving Communities program, LaMondia teams with Katie Funderburk, assistant director for Federal Nutrition Programs, Ruth Brock, Thriving Communities program coordinator and Mitch Carter, Thriving Communities specialist.

Live Well Alabama Thriving Communities is supported by a five-year $4.4 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve opportunities for safe and accessible physical activity by empowering community coalitions across the state to lead the charge for change.

In Eutaw, LaMondia has been working with the community coalition for several months on a community active transportation action plan for short-, medium- and long-term improvements to help promote safe walking and bicycling within its city limits. He said providing a safer route for students and parents on their way to school was near the top of the community’s priority list.

“We’re doing a lot of work with students, parents, school administrators, local leadership and community engineers to focus on improving routes for students to get to school safely by walking,” LaMondia said. “Most parents just drop their kids off now, but we’d like to flip that and encourage more walking and bicycling. However, one of the first steps is making it safe and inviting for residents to do so.”

LaMondia used his background in transportation engineering to provide training about the importance of sidewalks and their different impacts on a community, especially around a school. He said Eutaw Primary had activity with buses, motorists and existing pedestrians for drop-off and pick-off times, and there were many people in the area. LaMondia said existing crosswalks were worn away.

“Working with the community, we realized the best design highlights where pedestrians are supposed to be and really focus on improving those routes,” he said. “As part of the collaboration, we developed engineering designs for where crosswalks needed to go.”

The collaborations didn’t stop there. Thriving Communities and residents of Eutaw gathered to measure materials, clean the areas and use blowtorches to install the thermoplastic tape used for the crosswalks. The special retroreflective tape provides greater visibility.

“It’s more than just paint on the ground. It’s reflective enough so people will see it during the day and at night,” LaMondia said.

One of Thriving Communities' missions is to promote active transportation through more physical activity, and one of LaMondia’s roles on the team is to use his engineering prowess to provide action plans.

“These smaller communities don’t always have an expertise for building safe walking and bicycling infrastructure, but as we continue to partner with coalitions, they are building that expertise through our work,” he said. “We're not only making these improvements but also generating a wealth of knowledge and motivation.”

The work in Greene County is one of several community projects planned by Thriving Communities throughout the next five years of the grant cycle. Coming off a previous five-year grant where Thriving Communities worked with several Alabama communities to develop plans for promoting active transportation, LaMondia feels the team has built the trust of community leaders, and they are positioned to make positive change.

“We've generated these powerful coalitions that can advocate for themselves and now have the tools to do so,” he said. “The active transportation action plans we helped them developed are rooted in engineering principles, and we are now providing engineering solutions to the problems they face.”

Media Contact: Dustin Duncan, dzd0065@auburn.edu, 334-844-2326
Several people laying down white lines to form a crosswalk.

Jeff LaMondia, a civil and environmental engineering professor, coordinates the installation of a crosswalk at Eutaw Primary School in Greene County.

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