New traffic lights aim to save lives


ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – A new traffic light in St. Augustine Beach could help save lives. What was a flashing pedestrian signal at the intersection of Pope Road and Beach Boulevard -- near the pier has been changed to a traffic light.

Police, the city manager, tourists and residents all support this traffic light. Many say it was long overdue.

Tom Davis and Rose Mathes are from Texas and love walking around St. Augustine Beach. They say their experience so far has been very nice, "I'd love to bring my grandkids back here. There are absolutely no problems and we feel really safe."

The safety of tourists who may be unfamiliar with the area is so important to the city- which is why a pedestrian signal at the intersection of Pope Road and Beach Boulevard was changed to a traffic signal. Jacob Ballman works near the intersection at Little Margie's FA café. The traffic light hasn't even been there for two months yet but he says he already sees a positive effect.

"Overall, the past few months it shaped up I haven't seen anyone hit anyone I think it's good for people because there are so many tourists coming through no one's paying attention and a lot of times people are on their cell phones," said Jacob Ballman from Little Margie's FA Café.

St. Augustine Beach Police Chief Robert Hardwick says pedestrian safety is a top priority.

"As a matter fact, right before pulling into here, I pulled somebody over for failing to stop and at a pedestrian crosswalk. We just have to educate the community and locals to. as you see in the parking lot here most of these tags are from out of the area so we have to educate not just our state but other states as well," said Chief Hardwick.

Not only do tourists like Davis and Mathes feel safe because of the new light, people who live in St. Augustine Beach, like Heather Schnacke, feel the same way. She says she walks or bikes in this area nearly every day. She says it has been better because "as you can see, it bends around so it's risky to try and cross just in case so I think it provides that extra step for people to that they're being a little bit more cautious."

All of this stems from a 2012 traffic study conducted by the county. The total cost for the project was $234,000 -- which was split between the city and the county.