Nearly a month ago, a traffic signal was installed at the intersection in Pinecrest Village where a car fatally struck two doctoral students from the University of Miami one year ago. On Oct. 17, a memorial was held at which friends, neighbors and village officials crossed the intersection together in honor of the students.
On Oct. 16 of last year, Hao Liu, 26, and Ying Chen, 27, were crossing the intersection at Kendall Drive and SW 68th Court in Pinecrest when they were struck and killed by an oncoming car. According to Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, the intersection lacked both traffic lights and a crosswalk.
“There was no traffic light, there was no crosswalk either, there was absolutely nothing,” Lerner said. “Two weeks after the accident, they had a memorial … While I was there, many of the students and some residents who lived in the homes behind the apartments took me aside and said, ‘We need to have some protection here; there has to be a crosswalk or a light so this doesn’t happen again.’”
Students living in that area who take the Metrorail to school or work must cross the intersection to reach the nearest station. Since Kendall Drive is a county road, Pinecrest couldn’t simply decide to install a traffic light.
“It was actually the neighbors and students who made the initial outreach and request to the county,” Lerner said. “And we just followed up and said, ‘Yes we want it.’ We all kind of stayed on top of them until they made the decision to install a traffic light and a crosswalk.”
Liu and Chen were only two months into their pursuits of doctoral degrees in engineering. Both attained their bachelor’s degrees from prestigious universities in China before deciding to pursue their doctoral degrees at UM.
Yunqiu Wang, an adviser to the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, said that the mood was bittersweet as friends and neighbors honored the students during the memorial.
“We still remember them vividly, their face, their smile, and yet we also see something positive coming out of it,” Wang said. “And so it was bittersweet for everybody, from the councilman of Pinecrest, to the undergraduate and graduate students and the neighbors who came out to remember them.”
Meanwhile, the long-awaited pedestrian overpass over the dangerous US-1 intersection near the University Metrorail station is closing in on the start of construction.
According to spokeswomen Irene Ferradaz, Miami-Dade Transit expects to obtain the Building Department permit for the overpass by the end of the month. Construction would then begin in April 2015 and take one year to complete.
Featured photo courtesty of Garrett via Flickr.