Eckerd College students, faculty, supporters and neighbors have launched a full-scale campaign for a traffic signal on the Pinellas Bayway. In a tragic irony, their efforts continue that of 85-year-old Robert Shephard, who spent more than a decade arguing for signal at Eckerd College's main entrance.
He was killed in a car collision at that location November 7th.
"He's quoted as saying it's a tragedy waiting to happen," said Jeralyn Darling, managing editor of the campus newspaper. "It gives you goose bumps, the worst kind."
Wednesday, Darling covered a meeting the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Pinellas County's transportation planning body. After hearing from several residents and college representatives, the MPO voted unanimously to request the stop light.
Five times in the past decade, the Florida Department of Transportation has studied the intersection and concluded it did not meet state criteria for signalization.
However, FDOT representative Ming Gao told the MPO that right after they heard about the accident, they "immediately" scheduled a re-evaluation of the intersection.
"As a matter of fact, we had staff out there today looking at the intersection again and also pulling crash data, recent crash data to do an evaluation of the intersection," Gao said.
An FDOT spokesman said a new traffic count will be conducted early next year.
Darling also said a petition drive has been posted on change.org, and more than 100 people signed it the first day.
"We have a number of people writing the governor, so we're doing whatever we can to put this as high up on the DOT's list as we can get," said Eckerd College President Donald Eastman.
Local lawmakers are also getting involved. State Senator Jack Latvala put his request for a light in a letter to Florida Secretary of Trans portion Ananth Prasad. Latvala is chairman of the Senate transportation committee.
"I strongly recommend that this area be considered again for a traffic signal," Latvala wrote.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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