Residents call for changes to 'dangerous' intersection after deadly pedestrian, truck accident

Traffic engineer investigating crosswalk
Posted at 6:37 PM, Dec 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-02 18:38:50-05

Clearwater residents are calling for changes to a Missouri Avenue intersection they say is putting their safety at risk.

James Thompson, 73, was crossing Missouri Avenue in his motorized scooter when he was hit and killed by a pickup truck Thursday afternoon. 

"You have to be very careful, and I hope that it never happens to me," said Helena Fee of Clearwater. 

A pedestrian crosswalk is in place at Missouri Avenue just north of Lakeshore Road, but many seniors who are dependent on wheelchairs and motorized scooters are concerned whether they have enough time to safely cross Missouri Avenue's six lanes. 

"It's a scary feeling," said Jackie Southon, who rides a scooter to get across a Missouri Avenue crosswalk each day. "If you don't have a car, you're in trouble."

ABC Action News spotted at least a dozen senior residents using wheelchairs or motorized scooters within a half hour Friday morning cross Missouri Avenue. 

"We often talk about how somebody's going to get hit one day," said Southon. 

ABC Action News went to get answers from the city's traffic operations unit. 

A Clearwater city official said pedestrians have roughly 36 seconds to travel 104 feet.  

"That time you use for normal pedestrians is 4 feet per second, so we use a slower rate anyway because there is a large percentage of elderly people there," Clearwater Traffic Operations Manager Paul Bertles said. 

After we asked questions, Bertles made a personal visit to the intersection Friday to review the crosswalks signals and timing. 

Traffic officials told ABC Action News they will continue to review if adding time to the pedestrian crosswalk is necessary but warn that would tie up traffic.