Survey crew started mapping highway where teen was killed; neighbors hope for sidewalk

County leaders call sidewalk "complicated"

AUBURNDALE, Fla. - The busy highway where a teen student was hit and killed last week, now has the attention of traffic engineers.

Thursday morning, a Polk County survey crew started mapping Old Dixie Highway in Auburndale to get a better idea of what it will take to build a sidewalk.

Enrique Hernandez, 17, was walking north in the northbound lane near US 92 toward Tenoroc High School when he was hit by a 1999 Dodge Caravan traveling in the same direction.

Hernandez was walking because he missed the bus. He died at the scene.

People who live along the narrow, and not-so-pedestrian friendly stretch of road say it's time for a sidewalk.

"The kids need a sidewalk. I don't want to see any more of them get killed on this street out here. There are too many out walking," said Clarence Drawdy, who lives just down from the accident.

County leaders agree it's time to start looking at a solution.

"When the tragedy occurred, it refocused our attention," said Bill Skelton, Public Information Coordinator for Polk County Transportation.

He said they know the sidewalk is badly needed, but called it complicated, to say the least.

"It's really compounded by the existence of overhead aerial utilities, there's ditches on both sides of the road, there's underground utilities," Skelton said.

The county may also have to acquire land from property owners, something they attempted after the Tenoroc High School was built in 2008.

Skelton said at the time many land owners resisted the idea.

After this latest tragedy, John Batton said he has no problem donating the front of his property if it saves a life.

"They have nowhere else to walk really, unless they walk out in the weeds," he said. "Keep people from getting killed! It's dangerous out there."
 

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