Shuttle helps high school students cross busy Hillsborough Avenue

TAMPA - School officials in Hillsborough County want to put an end to students crossing dangerous Hillsborough Avenue when they head to campus. 

Since the first of the year, two students have been hit while crossing Hillsborough Avenue on their way to Middleton High School.  Tragically, one was killed. 

Monday morning, a new program aimed at getting them to school safely kicked off.

“I think that could happen to me, because that’s the same way I cross the street everyday,” said Middleton High School senior Jein Misselin.

Getting to school has become a race between life and death for many students like Misselin attempting to cross the busy six lanes of Hillsborough Avenue. 

“I used to take like ten minutes to cross the street because I wanted to be careful, and cars just wouldn’t slow down,” said Misselin. 

A lack of crossing options to get students to Middleton High was highlighted tragically in March when 15-year-old Norma Velasquez Cabrera died when she was hit by a car near Meridian Point Apartments. She was the second student to lose her life crossing there in the last three years.  Following her death, schools officials had had enough. 

“There will be four trips over from Meridian Point Apartment complex over to the school every day,” said Hillsborough County School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. 

Fifteen students jumped aboard the new student shuttle early Monday morning. 

Each day, students can catch a ride on the bus, either at 6:45 or 7:00 am and get dropped back off after school at 3:00 or 3:15.

The shuttle service costs about $250 a day.  

While costly, school officials say you can’t put a price tag on a student's life.

“This is really about safety, and I think all of us in the community need to be concerned and try to make sure that we model the appropriate behavior,” said Elia. 

Reminders of the students who lost their lives could be seen as students boarded this morning and school officials hope those memorials will be the last.

“My parents will not be worried anymore because we have a bus to cross the street to go to school,” said Misselin. 

Officials say the Florida Department of Transportation has also agreed to put a crosswalk here as well, exactly where that will be and when it will be finished is still up in the air.

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