FDOT aims to improve safety in area where 12-year-old hit, killed

Hunter Cope's parents say there's still more improvements that need to be made

By Corley Peel - Reporter

MAYPORT, Fla. - The Florida Department of Transportation is working to make a highly traveled area in Mayport safer for pedestrians. 

The $1.6 million resurfacing and safety project is underway along Wonderwood Drive, from Sand Castle Lane to Mayport Road.

It's the same area where 12-year-old Hunter Cope was hit and killed in March while walking to Mayport Middle School. Investigators said the driver of the SUV that hit him had alcohol and cocaine in her system.

Hunter's parents told News4Jax on Wednesday that the project is a step in the right direction, but there are other improvements that need to be made to keep people safe.

"I'm glad they're doing something. But at the same time, I don't know how much it's really going to benefit people in the area," said Matthew Valentine, Hunter's stepfather. "Rumble strips would have been way better to actually slow people down instead of widening a sidewalk. And I don't understand why middle schools can't have a crossing guard anywhere."

According to FDOT, the project consists of resurfacing 1 mile of roadway and improving pedestrian safety along the corridor. As part of the project, FDOT said, enhanced crosswalks, countdown pedestrian signals and handicap accessible ramps are being added at various intersections.

But Hunter's family said speed is the biggest issue, and 45 mph speed limit is too fast near a school.

"I believe they should at least limit the speed during school times like they do anywhere else," Valentine said.

A "Drive Safely" sign in memory of Hunter still stands near the site of the crash. Hunter's parents said they hope more can be done soon so none of Hunter's classmates ended up with signs like that one. 

FDOT expects crews to be finished with the resurfacing project this summer. 

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