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More lighting, new sidewalks possible after crashes involving Hillsborough students

Hillsborough MPO finds top 10 schools for crashes
Posted at 4:35 AM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 06:37:57-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Streets surrounding ten schools with a record of crashes involving students could soon see massive safety improvements to protect Hillsborough County kids.

The Hillsborough MPO School Transportation Working Group has hired a consultant team, which includes engineers and planners to assess what's needed to make kids safe. Engineers have now completed all the background work for each of the “top ten” schools, including:

  • Chamberlain High School
  • Coleman Middles School
  • Ferrell Middle Magnet + Middleton High School + Young Middle Magnet School
  • King High School
  • Leto High School
  • Miller Elementary Magnet School
  • Plant High School
  • Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School
  • Van Buren Middle School

Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School has had 17 school-related crashes within two miles of the school over just four years, according to the Hillsborough MPO School Safety Study.

RELATED | Alarming amount of car crashes outside schools, study says

Laurent Burgess walks his four-year-old son, Izaiah, to school there every day, but says the streets are often not lit up.

"I carry my phone with me in some areas can be a little dark," Burgess said. "I need to shine a light to just see what I'm walking into."

Middleton High School had 19 school-related crashes. This means the crashes occurred involving school-age kids, when school was in session and during typical arrival and dismissal times.

Chamberlain High School had 14 school-related crashes over four years, according to the study.

This week, consultants are reaching out to the school administrations at each school, to seek local perspectives and insights, asking what have the schools heard from the parents and what have the teachers observed, said Beth Alden, MPO Executive Director.

Next, they will visit each school site and walk the roadways and will come up with some specific recommendations of things that can be done.

Improvement types to be considered include, but are not limited to:

 Lighting/lighting enhancements
 Crossing guards
 School speed zones
 Crosswalk/intersection improvements
 Sidewalk gaps
 Advancing unfunded projects previously identified by the Cities, County, or FDOT
 Bicycle facilities
 Off‐road trails and side paths

After a list of specific improvements for each school is created, the Hillsborough MPO School Transportation Working Group will be working with Hillsborough County, the cities and FDOT to make the improvements happen, Alden said.

The consulting team will also document the recommendations and potential implementers, and then put everything into the MPO School Study report. 

A presentation on the draft results is scheduled for the February 28, 1:30 p.m. School Transportation Working Group meeting.

Hillsborough County Public Schools is also in the process of submitting a Safe Routes to School Application to the Florida Department of Transportation for Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School, Alden said. 

Local stakeholders are in the process of providing input including the City of Tampa, City of Tampa Police, Sulphur Springs Neighborhood of Promise, School District Staff, and the School PTA.  

The proposed improvements include new and improved crosswalks, sidewalks, lighting, and signage immediately surrounding the school.  If funded, the proposed bike and pedestrian safety improvements will not only serve the Sulphur Springs K-8 students but also the community as a whole, Alden said.

To look up how many crashes occurred in your school zone in recent years, click here.