TAMPA - UPDATE:
Following our story on ABC Action News -- where residents and businesspeople on both sides of busy Busch Boulevard complained about the lack of designated crosswalks near the accident scene of Busch and 14th Street -- we learned that the Florida Department of Transportation will be taking action to help make the street safer!
"There is a crosswalk planned," said Public Information Director Kris Carson. She was referring to a planned painted-on-the-street-path -- complete with push-button-activated flashing lights -- at the corner of 12th Street and Busch.
"We have to work with CSX," she added -- pointing to the parallel railroad tracks that adjoin the DOT right-of-way. "But," she added, "this has been in the works."
We are told that construction is held up with right-of-way issues at present, but that it could be completed "within months." We will keep you posted on the efforts!
Grief counselors were on hand at Sulphur Springs Elementary, helping kids cope with a classmate's death, after 8 year-old Jayla Shubber was hit trying to cross Busch Boulevard on Sunday.
"Trying to convey to them that they are safe," said Hillsborough County Schools Spokesperson Linda Cobbe. "It's an unfortunate accident and we just have to be very careful."
It was a tough life lesson to be learned in the neighborhood that is bisected by the busy boulevard, where crossing is a constant.
"This little girl was the most sweetest, cutest..." said Joseph Marchica, who works at the food counter of a neighborhood convenience mart. 'I cry when I even hear about it…"
Little Jayla and her 12-year-old sister had left the store just before 11:00 in the morning, walking home. The girl was hit before she could reach the south side of the street.
Joseph said it is simply a too-dangerous stretch, and that there are no convenient crosswalks.
"There are plenty of crosswalks in the area," countered Janelle McGregor with Tampa Police, "and they could have saved this little girl's life."
Indeed, there are some highlighted pedestrian paths in the general vicinity that could have been used. But folks here say they are just not enough. The blocks-long raceway between lights leaves drivers too ready to roll and unready to stop, they say.
Those people are encouraging the city -- and Mayor Bob Buckhorn -- to take a good, hard look at a very bad stretch of road.
"They have got to put a street light, " said Joseph. "They have got to put a crosswalk, or people will be dying here every day over here."