60ºF

What changes could make Third Street safer?

Pedestrian crashes raise questions about safety of Jacksonville Beach road

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a deadly crash over the weekend on Third Street, News4Jax is taking a closer look at the safety of the busy Jacksonville Beach road.

Many are concerned about safety there, particularly at night when bars close and patrons are heading out.

A woman was struck and killed along Third Street around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police say 44-year-old Paulette Thompson was crossing Third Street at Third Avenue South when she was hit.

People could be seen Monday hurrying across Third Street at First Avenue North. There's no traffic light at the intersection and there's no crosswalk, so the pedestrians were taking a chance.

"It's pretty hard just to get to the beach," Cayla Lewis said. "You've got to cross all this traffic just to get to the beach. It's kind of crazy."

Since 2014, five people have been hit by cars along Third Street (State Road A1A) in Jacksonville Beach, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The latest crash left one woman dead.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham is well aware of the problem and said the city is going to make changes soon. But he said a pedestrian overpass over Third Street was not in consideration.

"We explored that in the past. Actually ... we had an overpass over Beach Boulevard many years ago," Latham said. "We found people didn't want to go up and down the stairs. And usually that creates a problem with the ADA requirements."

So the plan now is to work with the Department of Transportation to create an additional crosswalk just north of Beach Boulevard.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that would be a good solution, if people use it.

UNCUT VIDEO: Gil Smith talks with Jim Piggott about road safety

He said too often people believe they can make it across the street, particularly if there is a median.

"Sometimes there may be a car that you can't see coming the other way that may be traveling faster than this car is," Smith said. "And it could come up a lot quicker."

Crossing at night is another danger, because pedestrians can't tell how fast a car is really going. And many times, the drivers are dealing with people who just come walking out of bars and might be intoxicated, which makes the situation worse.


About the Author: