Editor: Your recent series “Watch Your Step” has caused me to call FDOT to inquire about the Transportation Improvement Program that was undertaken by the MPO in 2010, and which included a request by Belleair Bluffs to construct pedestrian crossings across West Bay Drive, west of Indian Rocks Road. Much to my surprise, I found that the program has been disbanded, and our request for pedestrian crossings is now in limbo. Needless to say, I am now contacting the MPO and the Pinellas County Commission to see if our request could be reinstated.
As you state, Florida’s pedestrian crash fatalities are worse than any other state except New Mexico, and Pinellas County’s statistics are higher than the average in Florida. And, as your column points out, County Commission Vice-Chair Karen Seel has recently indicated, “this is an area that needs more attention moving forward.” The proximity of the Belleair Bluffs/Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge, with its constant flux of health-minded walkers and the nearness of condominiums with their elderly grocery shoppers, make this area particularly vulnerable to pedestrian crashes. As usual, vehicle speed is a significant factor in these crashes, with failure to yield by pedestrians also a causal factor. Your series will serve to heighten everyone’s attention to the extreme need for pedestrian awareness, especially during this time of year.
I am hopeful that our request for pedestrian crossings on West Bay Drive can be approved for construction in the near future.
Jack Nazario Commissioner, city of Belleair Bluffs