Friday, January 14, 2011

14 JAN 11: Bridges to Trouble

This week's ice-cold weather has reminded us of the importance to drive carefully on overpasses. You may have seen signs on bridges along the lines of, "Watch for ice." Why anyone would sell bags of ice outdoors during winter is a mystery to me....

The warnings about being careful on Columbus bridges may need to expand to walkers. Police reported Thursday two thugs threw a man off the Dillingham Street Bridge in the middle of the night. There are far better ways to mark the bridge's 100th anniversary than this.

Admittedly this bridge toss sounds a little weird. Police suggest the two thugs became angry because the man didn't have a cigarette to give them. The word "Salem" is supposed to mean peace, you know....

On top of that, the attackers apparently didn't throw the alleged victim into the Chattahoochee River. Police say he landed on the Phenix City side, near the amphitheater. Mobsters six decades ago would have had much better aim.

But wait, there's more - the man who was tossed over the bridge did NOT want to press charges. Police suspect that's because the alleged victim may have been drunk. The attackers simply were addicted to the wrong thing.

Even though this attack occurred at 2:00 a.m., this crime report concerned me. I've jogged across the Dillingham Street Bridge many times, including several runs in the evening after sunset. It's the last place where I want to be challenged to a Fort Benning-style combative match.

The sidewalks on the Dillingham Street Bridge are on the narrow side, with barely enough room to walk "two-wide." I should take this moment to thank NASCAR for giving us the phrase "two-wide," to replace the description which mentioned a woman's sensitive area.

But anyway: the concrete sides of the Dillingham Street Bridge are only about waist-high. I take care when I walk or run on it to keep anything I'm carrying on the street side. Now I'm extra thankful I do that - because when I'm not looking, someone could tackle me from behind.

Another concern on the Dillingham Street Bridge is the occasional bicyclist, who insists on pedaling on the sidewalk instead of Dillingham Street. What if we're going in opposite directions and bump each other? What if we're going the same direction, and I'm running faster than the bicyclist? That's happened a time or two - and it's more an annoyance for me than an ego trip about my health.

Four other bridges cross the Chattahoochee River between Columbus and Phenix City. The 14th Street Bridge is the best for running, because it became a pedestrian bridge several years ago. But it's also a place where curious gatherings seem to occur in the evening. They seem to stop for two things -- a violent act or a big community banquet.

The 13th Street Bridge was built with pedestrian safety in mind, as it has high fences along the sidewalks. You're unlikely to lose pieces of paper or key rings into the river - and charities have discovered those fences are great places to dry out T-shirts.

I can see the Oglethorpe Bridge from my kitchen window - but don't you dare try to talk me into running on it. I've never even walked on it, even though there are sidewalks. The angle goes too high above the river for my comfort, the fences aren't very high - and unlike Dillingham Street, fast drivers can get a running start.

That leaves the U.S. 80 bridge across the Chattahoochee, at one end of J.R. Allen Parkway. I don't think pedestrians are allowed there, since for all intents and purposes it's a freeway. The sight of a woman jogging in a T-shirt and shorts during morning rush hour might cause a 25-car pileup.

-> Our dream of a big gain at the poker table Thursday night ended with a big surprise. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Cam Newton announced Thursday night he's leaving Auburn University one year early, and entering the pro football draft. OK, Alabama fans -- NOW you can play the song, "Take the Money and Run."

Really now -- was anyone surprised by this announcement from Cam Newton? He hopes to cash in on all those awards, including the Heisman Trophy. And we all know how much his father could use the cash....

Cecil Newton offered an explanation Thursday about how he wound up on the field with his quarterback son Monday night. He says he watched the BCS Championship game somewhere outside the stadium, and entered after the winning field goal. He was like an Oregon salmon, swimming upstream against the rush of Duck fans.

Some people are skeptical of Cecil Newton's explanation, since security at the BCS Championship game was tight. But they're forgetting something - Newton is a minister, so he knows how to pray for a parting of the seas.

Meanwhile, Auburn junior defensive lineman Nick Fairley will announce his future plans today. I fear Tiger fans will be disappointed again. If Fairley is making the announcement at his old high school in Mobile instead of Toomer's Corner, he might be afraid of getting toilet paper shoved in his mouth.

Let's see what else warmed my heart on a cold winter day....

+ Columbus Police reported someone stole two air conditioning units from store roofs at Cross Country Plaza. But before you get too angry, remember two things. They were taken from stores about to be demolished - and this is the off-season for air conditioner theft.

+ WRBL reported Columbus Bank & Trust will close several local branches, including locations on 13th Avenue and in Ladonia. These specific closures surprised me. I thought Ladonia was a growth area in Russell County - and I thought Mayor Teresa Tomlinson had enough civic loyalty to keep MidTown Inc. funds at CB&T.

+ The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation celebrated its tenth anniversary. The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil attended the event at Fort Benning, and praised the work WHINSEC does. The U.S. Ambassador to Russia probably stayed away - since the State Department is ignoring complaints from Moscow about that arrested TV crew.

+ East Alabama Medical Center declared it will become a "meaningful user of electronic health records." That means the hospital is eligible for millions of federal stimulus dollars -- but what else does that mean? Can I get a piece of that money, if I post my running times online?

+ Former Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herman Cain announced he's forming an exploratory committee, to possibly run for President. Cain has become an author and radio talk show host in Atlanta. But Newt Gingrich is thinking about running, too - and you'd think the Georgia Republican Party would want an in-state runoff vote first.

+ A federal judge in Montgomery ordered Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley placed under house arrest. He's accused of offering a bribe to a former lobbyist. If Gilley can afford to do that, why can't he afford to build simply the ground floor of The Phenixian?

+ Instant Message to C.A. "Brother Love" Hardmon: Thanks for the mention in your column Thursday in The Courier. I'm especially thankful you didn't call for a boycott of this blog.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: Your e-mails about Auburn football and the "Mimosa Madam"....

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