While it isn't on the agenda for Thursday night, we assume that supporters of a petition begun on change.org will be at the Lincolnton City Council meeting to present a request that the City rebuild a pedestrian bridge that once provided a walkway over the railroad to and from the Oaklawn community. The petitioners could make their request during the Public Comments portion of the meeting.
The petition was seeking 100 'signatures.' As of late Tuesday afternoon, it had 31.
The petition link shows an old newspaper photo of seven young men gathered at one end of the bridge with the caption "Bridge IS Neighborhood Link, Popular Hangout."
Most current Lincolnton residents aren't old enough to remember when the railroad through Lincolnton was lowered in the early 1950s. Likewise, most have no recollection of the time before 1958 when the bypass was built.
Oaklawn School was still in operation then, and the bridge offered a way for children to get from the north (East Main Street and beyond) side of the tracks to the school. That was its original purpose.
This reporter remembers when the bridge became the subject of discussion at several City Council meetings, but I honestly don't remember whether it was in the lat 1970s or early '80s.
The bridge had fallen into disrepair, and the railraod didn't want to provide any money for its repair. Truthfully, they wanted the bridge destroyed.
One lady who was a leader in the black community at first pushed to have the bridge maintained, but after she and city leaders made a trip to the bridge, she agreed it needed to go.
The bridge had become a pathway for drug trafficking, and police also said that some shoplifters, after snatching items from what was then Hoyle's Grocery #2, were using it as a convenient escape route.
The drug trafficking was the bigger problem. Using the bridge, some of those who were selling drugs at the corner near Oaklawn School, were using it regularly. There was even a path adjacent to the Oaklawn side of the bridge that led down to an area adjacent to the railroad where addicts often went to use the drugs they had bought. When the inspection occurred, multiple used syringes and other drug-related debris were present.
City Council decided the bridge was as much a problem as a help and didn't want to spend a lot of money on replacing it. It was demolished.