FHP counts at least two crashes every week in I-4/Crosstown Connector Project

TAMPA, Fla. - On June, 14 2011, Robert Armstrong died at just 19-years-old. He worked on an I-75 construction site. Early that morning, a truck veered out of control and slammed into him.

According to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins, the construction crashes continue 2-and-a-half years later, especially acute around projects like the I-4 Connector and with recent work begun on I-275.

"Those kinds of projects frequently throw changes at drivers on a daily basis," Sgt. Gaskins said. "There's no room for error. There's no margin for error. That's what it amounts to."

On the Crosstown Expressway, cars pass about 300 workers, separated by just four feet.

"Four feet, in a matter of seconds, and somebody's dead," said I-4 Connector Project Administrator Sherman Johnson. "We've had plenty of near-misses where people have been driving through speeding."

So, ABC Action News took action with Sgt. Gaskins inside the construction areas. Drivers had a clear view of our patrol car on the Crosstown.

Within minutes, inside a 45mph zone, a car sped by beside a dozen workers.

"Passed me in a marked control car, on the shoulder, at 61mph was his highest speed," Sgt. Gaskins said.

The violations continued, especially when we hid behind a row of trees.

"I can see 4 signs that say 50mph and he's traveling 66," Sgt. Gaskins said, pointing to another vehicle. "Vehicles are hitting, several times a week, crash-attenuators, guard rails, barrier walls."

Gaskins sees at least two accidents every week on the Crosstown alone. Statewide, 2012 witnessed 1,624 construction zone crashes, ending in 826 injuries and 14 deaths, many preventable by slowing down.

"Then we can all get home. I've got kids just like you've got kids," Johnson said. "I want to get home and see mine also."

It's a chance Armstrong never got. The day he died, he was on the side of I-75 in order to remove a sign that tracks speed.

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