HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla - Fewer drivers are getting into car crashes on Fletcher Avenue after Hillsborough County spent $4.7 million dollars improving the road. Of the money used, three million dollars came from the federal government.
Stephanie Hayes uses the crosswalk. Kenneth Lavarre does not. He was seen crossing in the middle of Fletcher Avenue.
"I think it's just a force of habit.," Lavarre said.
Hayes says she broke a similar habit of not using crosswalks on Fletcher Avenue after an officer ticketed her for jaywalking a month ago.
"I did the zigzag in and out and I was walking, I got across the street and all of a sudden whoop, whoop behind me," said Hayes, referring to the moment she realized a police officer pulled her over.
Hayes believes people are impatient when it comes to using crosswalks.
I asked Lavarre if a ticket would change his mind.
"Yes, it would. Tickets add up," he said.
The county says the project included:
Upgraded sidewalks and ADA ramps
Enhanced crosswalk markings at signalized intersections and mid-block crossings
A new pedestrian signal near the Super WalMart
New bike lanes
Raised concrete median to increase safety and manage access
Enhanced lighting and LED lighting of crosswalks
Resurfaced the road from east of Nebraska Avenue to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
Added five mid-block pedestrian crossings with overhead rectangular rapid flashing beacons
In February 2015, the Center for Urban Transportation Research conducted a survey. The results were:
31% of people were walking to retail commercial businesses.
20% were going to work or performing an errand.
67% of the pedestrians surveyed reported they did not have access to vehicles.
73% of people said they used the crosswalks.
The county says car crashes are down 37%. However, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists struck by vehicles has not changed much.
In the December 1, 2011—November 30, 2012 period the past full year before construction,
Total crashes: 217
Motor Vehicle: 199
For the last full year during the same months that December 1, 2015—November 30, 2016
Total crashes: 140
Motor Vehicle: 125
A drive down Fletcher Avenue reveals the problem pretty quickly. Many people are not using the new amenities.
An ABC Action News crew spotted one man looking both ways before running across several lanes of traffic. He was in a crosswalk, but didn't press the button for the signal.
A bicyclist was spotted riding the wrong way in the bike lane.
Hayes believes the improvements could work.
"As long as everybody else does their part.," she said. "The pedestrians and the bicyclists."
Which includes Lavarre who agrees to now use the crosswalk.
"I promise," he said.
The Hillsborough County Public Works Department said, "Two pedestrian deaths have occurred since construction was completed. In 2015, a pedestrian was in the crosswalk at the traffic signal control intersection at 22nd Street and walked into the path of a vehicle which had the green light. In 2016, a pedestrian stepped from the concrete traffic separator just west of Bruce B. Downs Blvd into the path of a westbound vehicle."
The County says it is doing a pre- and post-construction study with a consultant and the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.