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Letter to the Editor: Residents Avoid Using Manning Avenue Bridge Due to Possible Collapse

Dear Mr. Merchant, Mr. Mixon, Ms. Dennis and Members of Sumter City Council and Sumter County Council:

The decrepit and deteriorating condition of the Manning Avenue Bridge in Sumter, South Carolina presents a significant disadvantage to many voters who reside in South Sumter, South Carolina and want to vote by mail early and in person. The primary site for conducting this type of voting is the Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections Office, located at 141 N. Main St., Sumter, SC.

A number of residents of South Sumter, South Carolina avoid crossing the Manning Avenue Bridge due to the hazardous conditions that exist there and the risk of danger and loss of life that can occur at this site in the event of an accident. collapse of said bridge.

Residents of South Sumter, South Carolina are predominantly African American and have low to moderate incomes. These people suffer disproportionately from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, prostate cancer, high maternal morbidity and mortality, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents of South Sumter, South Carolina are, in effect, economically and racially separated from the more affluent and economically secure segments of the City of Sumter and Sumter County, South Carolina, by the presence of the railroad system CSX which divides these entities demographically into two. and by the presence of a faulty, decaying and deteriorating Manning Avenue Bridge which, due to its unsafe condition, forces residents of South Sumter to use detour routes around this bridge for safety reasons and for fear of an imminent bridge collapse and the resulting devastation. results.



In fact, inequality powerfully depresses the vote of low-income people.

Even without the impact of the global pandemic, economic deprivation is a case of double jeopardy when it comes to voting: if you’re poor, you’re more likely to have poor health – and if you’re unhealthy , you are less likely to vote.

The Family Unit Inc. is continually consulted by low-to-moderate income residents of South Sumter, South Carolina on issues regarding their health, homelessness, substandard living conditions and their right to vote .

Voting rights are often the last item on the agenda for low-to-moderate income residents of South Sumter, South Carolina, due to their focus on survival and basic sustenance. However, surprisingly and incredibly, despite their countless hardships in daily life, the right to vote is sought and revered by some of the poorest people The Family Unit Inc. has come into contact with and advocates for.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits any obstruction or restriction, caused by a state government, that adversely affects a voter’s right to have unrestricted and easy access to the ballot box.

The Sumter Urban Area Transportation Study (SUATS), which is a metropolitan planning organization (www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/transportation-planning/metropolitan-planning-organization-mpo) consisting of Members of the City of Sumter Government, Sumter County Government, South Carolina Department of Transportation, Sumter County Legislative Delegation, City of Sumter Planning Commission, and County Development Board of Sumter, made the decision as a group to place the replacement for the Manning Avenue Bridge. following the implementation of other “connectivity” projects that have been undertaken over the past decade in Sumter County, South Carolina.

The Family Unit Inc. argues that the decision to delay the replacement of the Manning Avenue Bridge while ignoring and ignoring the unsafe, dilapidated and deteriorated condition of this structure impedes and violates the voting rights of South Sumter residents, South Carolina, many of whom are members of our 501(c)(3), nonprofit charitable organization, and are beneficiaries of services provided by our organization that relate to the health, housing, and education of voters, voter registration and promoting voter engagement in the electoral process.

The Family Unit, Inc. recommends that the South Carolina Department of Transportation perform a full and thorough assessment and inspection of the Manning Avenue Bridge as soon as possible and, simultaneously, close access to this decaying bridge and deteriorating, setting up alternative routes for motorists and pedestrians who would normally cross this bridge. It is recommended that SCDOT configure alternate detour routes for motorists as well as pedestrians traveling over the Manning Avenue Bridge.



Further, The Family Unit, Inc. recommends that the South Carolina Department of Transportation and SUATS communicate with the CSX Railroad Corporation regarding the relationship between the Manning Avenue Bridge and the CSX rail system which is an integral part of the city of Sumter and the county of Sumter. , Caroline from the south.

Importantly, the CSX Railroad Corporation has already begun to improve transportation in the City of Sumter and Sumter County, South Carolina, by extensively replacing the old, deteriorated railroad tracks and surrounding equipment with new materials. and safe, secure and durable equipment.

A joint effort between SUATS and the CSX Railroad Corporation would benefit residents of the City of Sumter and Sumter County, South Carolina, especially low to moderate income people who live, own and operate businesses and love in South Sumter, South Carolina.

In addition to this, proactive actions in reference to the replacement of the Manning Avenue Bridge will help protect and preserve the voting rights of low-to-moderate income residents of South Sumter, South Carolina, by helping to ensure these voters unlimited and unhindered access. access to the Sumter County Voter and Election Registration Office, located at 141 North Main Street, Sumter, SC…the site where the majority of in-person mail-in voting takes place.

A significant number of low to moderate income residents who live in South Sumter, SC live within one (1) mile of the Sumter County Registration and Elections Office and use the Manning Avenue Bridge to reach this destination.

A collapse or failure of the Manning Avenue Bridge would result in these aforementioned voters incurring significant charges to access the Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections Office, the location where they routinely voted using by-pass voting. correspondence in person.

Immediate strategic planning by the South Carolina Department of Transportation for the implementation of alternate routes around the Manning Avenue Bridge would indicate that voters would prepare and inform voters of the altered route to the registration office and Sumter County Elections where they could cast their Mail-In Votes in person.

The Family Unit, Inc. routinely and regularly engages with low to moderate income individuals who are registered voters in the State of South Carolina and who are potential voters. It is common for many of these voters to be carried by me, representing my non-profit charity. Preparing to vote is fundamental and essential to participation in the electoral process. Having advance notice of transportation routes before the election overall helps get voters to and from the Sumter County Voter and Elections Registration Office and to and from the various polling places.



BRENDA C. WILLIAMS, MD

The Family Unit Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization

Summer

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.