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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Education

Police to focus on road where Middleton students cross


Published:

Tampa police will focus on a busy six-lane stretch of Hillsborough Avenue used by Middleton High students as a shortcut while walking to school.

The area, between marked crosswalks at 22nd and 30th streets, was where two teenage girls were struck and injured by a car early Tuesday and another girl was struck and killed in 2011.

Despite those incidents and a Wednesday school assembly focusing on pedestrian safety and the use of crosswalks, some students were still observed walking to and from school near 25th Street, outside a crosswalk.

A police squad, paid for with state grant money to improve pedestrian safety, has already been highly visible along Hillsborough and other problem spots for walkers, department spokeswoman Andrea Davis said. In the wake of Tuesday’s incident, more attention will be given to the area north of Middleton High.

“There are no specific times,” Davis said in an email, “but major focus will be when the kids are going to and from school.”

The school resource officer will also monitor the situation, she said.

“Hillsborough Avenue has always been a focus, including that area, but because of the accident, we are doing some extra enforcement,” she said. “We don’t want to see any more kids hurt.”

The Florida Department of Transportation, which is responsible for Hillsborough Avenue in that area, said it will review crash data, conduct pedestrian counts and study the area for a signal. There already are flashing yellow warning lights there for drivers.

Middleton held a student assembly Wednesday to “urge students to follow basic pedestrian and traffic safety precautions,” the Hillsborough County school board said.

The $100,000 pedestrian grant for Tampa police comes from the FDOT, Davis said. About $400,000 has been used to increase enforcement along Hillsborough Avenue, Busch Boulevard, Fowler Avenue and Nebraska Avenue.

“We’ve used about $60,000 in enforcement overtime,” Davis said. “Much of that has been along Hillsborough Avenue. When we received that grant, we started giving warnings to pedestrians and drivers.”

After a warning, pedestrians and drivers caught again can be issued a citation. Since Nov. 1, the squad funded by the grant has issued 504 warnings and 946 citations to pedestrians and drivers, she said.

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