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      Gang concerns keep pedestrians off 277 walkway

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Last week, WACH Fox News told you about a continuing problem of people darting out in traffic on SC-277.

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      One way officials try to keep people off that stretch of roadway near the James Clyburn Pedestrian Overpass is by fencing off the highway.

      SCDOT officials have spent a lot of time in that area making numerous repairs on the fence.

      "Our employees have been told that it doesn't make sense to repair the fence because as soon as our guys leave, they were going to go ahead and cut and come back through it anyway," explains Tony Magwood with the Department of Transportation.

      SCDOT officials say in the last six years they've spent $15,000 fixing the fence and have also made several safety improvements to the bridge, but officials say many neighbors tell them the walkway is still unsafe.

      "One of the things we found when dealing with the public in that location was the fact that they felt as if taking the pedestrian bridge was an inconvenience because it passed through several areas that was controlled by a rival gang or heavy gang activity," Magwood says.

      "A lot of folks feel like they'll take their chances just going across the highway," adds Dr. A.V. Strong of Project Gang Out. "They feel safer going across the busy highway dodging cars rather than dodging bullets."

      Strong says the $4 million bridge goes right through an area with gang troubles and many people in the community have voiced concerns about safety near the walkway.

      "A lot of people don't feel safe going across that bridge due to the gang involvement," he adds. "Some have told me gangs are making them pay tolls to go across that bridge."

      WACH Fox News spoke with several residents, most of them were not comfortable talking with us, or appearing on camera. However, some of them did say they would not let their families cross the Clyburn Pedestrian Bridge because crime near the overpass has made it unsafe.