Local News

Bridge Over Troubled Water Colors

Posted August 11, 1998

— The neighborhood near the Boylan Avenue Bridge in Raleigh is brightly painted by artists and darkened by vagrants.

The inner city community has gone through a rebirth in the past few years. Numerous art studios are part of that rejuvenation. However, a group of transients who hang out along the train tracks have made people who work there feel unsafe.

Despite sweltering mid-day heat, people gather beneath the Boylan Avenue Bridge. They smoke, drink, throw rocks, fight and litter.

Whatever commotion the group causes, they make people inside nearby art studios feel threatened.

"Last Saturday there was a fellow who appeared in our parking lot with his throat cut," artist Jack Barnes said.

Barnes says it is hard to work when you do not feel safe.

"It's a great hideaway for them to do whatever they want to do out of the public eye," Barnes said.

Raleigh police received 96 calls from the bridge area this year. Many were routine. There were 17 burglar alarms and 12 calls to investigate suspicious people. But, there were also calls concerning robbery, vandalism, alcohol violations and disturbances.

Police say they routinely move transients out of the area, but they always come back.

"We try and keep a police presence there to keep the problems down, but we can't stay down there 24 hours a day. We do the best we can," Raleigh Police Capt. D.A. Weingarten said.

"I hope we can improve this side of an already good community, because there's a really great community across our property line," Barnes said.

Police say the tracks are owned by the railroads, and they have the ultimate authority and responsibility to keep people away.

CSX railroad said that they have their own police force, but they do not patrol any one area on a regular basis.

The railroad says they give local police departments permission to handle problems on their property.

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