More sidewalks, streetlights coming to University Area to improve safety

Posted at 2:15 PM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 18:41:33-04

A Tampa community, terrified they'll be killed while simply walking down the street, is getting some much needed help.

University Area Resident Rachel Linen said she feels exposed walking down 20th street in Tampa to pick her kids up from daycare.

"I feel unsafe and scared with my kids," she said.

She's often forced to walk them down streets in her University Area neighborhood with no sidewalks. A few weeks ago, she said a car nearly killed them.

"The car is like coming and didn't see me," Linen said. "I got my baby and they almost hit us. So that's scary."

The University Area Community Development Corporation, partnering with Hillsborough County, Ken Stapleton & Associates, Tampa Innovation Alliance and others to bring changes to this at-risk area.

Weigh in on the study here

"There's no sidewalks," said Sarah Combs, executive director of the University Area Community Development Corporation. "There's no lighting. There's potholes in the road."

The UACDC is reaching out to those who live in the area to ask what the biggest safety concerns are and where the most dangerous areas seem to be. They are also asking what improvements should be top priority. The hope is to stop more people from dying.

"Every year we have several deaths because children are in the roadways, parents are in the roadways because there's no sidewalks," Combs said.

They're working to get grant money and enlist local businesses to not just add sidewalks, but fix broken roads and cut down trees blocking street lights. Residents said changes are desperately needed.

"It's really dark and there are no sidewalks," said Frederick Arnold, who lives in the area.

Arnold only has a bike to get around and said a car nearly hit him too.

"By the time I looked up, the headlights were right in my face," he said. "I got on the side of the road and prayed."

The final safety report should be in by the end of the year and upgrades made soon after. Arnold and others hope that will help save lives.