Busy Mandarin intersection finally gets new traffic light

Complaints from residents demanding light prompted I-TEAM investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A busy Mandarin intersection that had a traffic pole knocked down in a fatal crash in February finally has a new pole nine months later.

On Feb. 18, a car traveling at an estimated 100 mph knocked down a steel traffic pole at the intersection of San Jose Boulevard and Old St. Augustine Road. As a result, for months following the crash, the pedestrian signal at the intersection wasn't fully operational. After concerned residents contacted the I-TEAM in August, we asked the city about the delays, and a temporary wooden traffic pole was soon installed.

But another crash at the intersection knocked down the temporary wooden pole. Police said a car hopped a curb and ran over the traffic pole that came down in the February crash, before taking out the wooden pole.  A replacement wooden pole was installed the same day.

After that crash, the I-TEAM asked the city when the new steel traffic pole would be in place.  The city said the replacement was expected to be delivered in mid-November.

It was installed Friday morning as an I-TEAM camera rolled.

Janet Davis, who owns Mandarin Sealife, said drivers have been cutting through the parking lot of her business to avoid the confusion of merging onto San Jose Boulevard. 

“It’s a huge pedestrian issue,” Davis said. “We’ve almost been run over by someone coming through the parking lot.” 

The owner of Ace Hardware said she was pleased the ongoing problem was resolved Friday.

“What I am looking forward to seeing is an improvement in the traffic flow and a decrease in the car accidents,” Jacqueline Thompson said. “As a store owner, it hits your wallet when you have customers who can’t come into your store and shop. I feel all the other owners will be happy.”

The intersection is also used by students at San Jose Prep Academy and other pedestrians every day.

A city spokesperson explained the delay in getting the permanent light in place, saying there was a six- to nine-month wait time across the country for steel poles like the one needed for the light.  According to the city, the poles are custom-built, with a limited number of companies in the U.S. that meet Florida's stringent hurricane wind-load standards.

The new traffic pole costs $12,400, and the city also had to spend $2,500 to test the concrete foundation under the pole.  As part of the process, structural engineers were brought in to inspect the pole, mast arm and foundation, to see which parts could be re-used and which had to be replaced.

News4Jax asked about the total cost of the project and the safety features on the light pole, but we have not heard back yet.

The I-TEAM had previously asked the city what was being done to prevent accidents at the busy intersection.  A city spokesperson responded that the two accidents that took down the poles are not common and involved vehicles traveling at high speeds.  The city said the February accident involved alcohol and a driver traveling at an estimated 100 mph, and that engineers will review crash data to determine crash trends, and identify roadway features that could possibly reduce the severity of this type of crash.

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