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Bridge removal spurs civil rights investigation

GREENVILLE (AP) — A federal agency is conducting a civil rights investigation after state officials removed a bridge in Greenville.

A neighborhood association joined state Rep. Chandra Dillard in filing the complaint with Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Civil Rights. The groups accuse the state Department of Transportation for ignoring residents near the bridge because of their race and low income, according to The Greenville News (http://grnol.co/1chVm87).

The DOT said it removed the bridge over railroad tracks last summer because it was unsafe even for pedestrians to cross and too expensive to fix. The next bridge crossing is 1.5 miles away.

DOT spokesman Pete Poore said the agency doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits.

Southernside Neighborhoods in Action President Mary Duckett said the decision to remove the bridge has brought down property values and isolated the neighborhood even more.

She said she hasn’t found anyone in the community who met with DOT officials about the bridge. DOT officials were invited to neighborhood meetings, but never showed up, Duckett said.

“Southernside has been beat up one side and down the other,” said Duckett, who added the neighborhood has been cut off from the rest of Greenville not just by the bridge demolition, but other road projects.

The complaint was filed to seek changes in how DOT makes decisions so other communities don’t suffer, said Dillard, D-Greenville.

“This is a big deal because it’s not often that communities get to this point,” she said.

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