Foothill Farms Residents Have Concerns About Pedestrian Bridge

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FOOTHILL FARMS --

Increases in crime, vandalism and now a homicide.

The small neighborhood of homes that sits at the eastern end of a pedestrian bridge of Old Foothill Farms has long been a source of complaints for residents.

The bridge is referred to as the "catwalk" and is a source of transportation for school kids during the day. But when the sun goes down, all sorts of illegal activity starts to unfold.

"It's scary," said Catrina Williams, a long-time resident.  "We used to let our kids go down to the park and things like that, but not anymore."

At a community meeting Thursday, ideas were tossed around about how to best discourage the illegal activity. Everything from better lighting and video surveillance to closing the footbridge down after dark.

The sheriff's department and Assemblyman Ken Cooley were among those in attendance.

"We can expedite the power issue, get some lights in, look into this ability to shut down if necessary," Cooley said.  "And I do think pushing Caltrans to give us an ADA design."

Caltrans built the concrete bridge back in the 1960s. They, along with Sacramento County, are in charge of maintaining it.

"The problem right now is the funding part," explained Dennis Keaton with Caltrans.  "But from a standpoint of safety and security, that's really up to the sheriff's office to address at this point."

To understand the make up of the bridge, it's easy to see how criminals are finding simple access to the neighborhood.  The entrance is actually tucked between two homes. The ramp leading to the bridge overlooks several backyards.

And now residents are on edge after one of their own, 41-year-old Christopher Dwillis was stabbed multiple times and died last month after he had confronted vandals.

"Overall, crime in this community has pretty much stayed the same, and it is much lower than other like-size communities in the area," explained Lt. Todd Henry with the sheriff's department. "I think it probably heightened their concern, but overall, I think it's an isolated event."

As far as the soonest any changes may start to take shape near the footbridge, Cooley thinks it can happen within the next three months.