City councilman calls for safety improvements along Hillsborough Avenue

TAMPA, Fla - Tampa city leaders are calling for improvements after three teenagers were hit in one month crossing the same busy street.

Councilman Frank Reddick is asking Florida Department of Transportation to make changes along Hillsborough Avenue that will improve pedestrian safety.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, he called for a new traffic light at a particularly busy area east of 22nd Street at the entrance to the Meridian Point Apartments.

But despite months of warnings from police and encouragement from the Department of Transportation for people to use crosswalks, many still take chances.

Jeremiah Harrison said he crosses Hillsborough Avenue several times a week.

"Even though you see the risk and you see the danger, I mean it's more convenient," Harrison said.

But that short cut is dangerous and can be deadly.

The area outside Meridian Pointe Apartments is where Norma Velasquez-Cabrera and her sister were hit last month. Norma died from her injuries.

"They can put a mid-block walkway, a crosswalk where these people can cross this street and not get hit by a car," councilman Reddick said.

FDOT said it's considering a traffic light, but even if approved, it would take a year to install.

Until then, they're asking people who cross Hillsborough Avenue to cross at safe, designated areas.

"We need the community to cross at the crosswalks that are already installed and listen to the officers that are out there with some enforcement efforts," said FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson

But the concerns stretch past the one section.

William Hogan is in the hospital clinging to life after he was hit by a car at 40th Street last week.

"How many lives does it take before they realize there's an issue, there's a problem that needs to be fixed," said Lori Higan, William's mother.

A meeting is scheduled  Tuesday between FDOT, the school system and city and county law enforcement to consider other safety improvements.

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