New safety plan for New Kings Road seeks to halt pedestrian deaths

5 pedestrians recently hit, killed on 5-mile stretch known as 'The Danger Zone'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Details have been released about a new $10 million traffic and pedestrian safety program for a 5-mile stretch of New Kings Road known as the “The Danger Zone,” where five pedestrians were recently hit and killed by motorists.

Two of those pedestrians died in hit-and-run crashes along the stretch between Interstate 295 and Edgewood Avenue, where there's no sidewalks and few crosswalks. Yet, flowers and crosses to remember the lives lost are a common sight on New Kings Road.

One of the memorials remembers Selina Rivers-Tobler, 41, and Anthony Jacobs, 57, who were struck and killed on New Kings Road when they tried to cross the street in October. 

"It's been extremely tough. Very tough," said Ralph Murray, one of Jacobs' close friends. "It's always been an ongoing situation out there."

Ben Frazier, a community organizer and director of the newly formed Northside Coalition, is hopeful about the new plan.  

"Disclosure of these plans is a victory for the Northside which has sometimes been neglected," Frazier said. “We are ecstatic the state has agreed to implement this major infrastructure improvement plan.” 

Frazier said the plan, a byproduct of Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown, residents' concerns and the Florida Department of Transportation, “will have a significant impact on safety and the quality of life for Northside residents.”

“Our meetings with city and state officials were positive and productive,” Frazier said. “We applaud FDOT’s chief planner, Jim Knight, and City Councilman Reggie Brown for their teamwork in addressing the Northside Coalition’s concerns.”

The state’s new plans for New Kings Road include:

  • $7 million for resurfacing the entire length of New Kings Road (State Road 15 from Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway to Wagner Road near I-295)
  • More than $3 million for sidewalks and street lighting east and west of the road
  • Other traffic engineering measures for pedestrian safety are also under consideration

"We started originally with the sidewalk," said Ron Tittle, of FDOT. "It's all about saving lives. And if we can save one life, it is certainly worth all the efforts."

The changes can't come soon enough for pedestrians like Eric Gross, who said his life is at risk every day. 

"I think it's great. I think it's a good idea," Gross said. "I know a lot of people are scared to walk up and down the roads."

The project is scheduled to begin in April 2018 and is scheduled for completion in December 2019.

“This is an action plan designed to save lives,” Frazier said.

In the meantime, police will be enforcing traffic laws in the area. Officials also remind pedestrians to be careful, wear bright clothing and stay as far away from the traffic as possible.

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