Pedestrian overpass efforts move forward

Local and state representatives met Friday to discuss possible long- and short-term solutions for a pedestrian overpass, sparked by the recent death of UM freshman Ashley Kelly. The main topic of discussion was the construction of a pedestrian overpass, being pushed by concerned students and the community.

“We want to be responsive to this tragedy. The overpass was originally scheduled to be completed between 2009 and 2010, but since the accident the construction will be accelerated and should be completed by 2008,” said Albert Hernandez, deputy director of Miami-Dade Transit.

According to Lt. Paul Miyales of the UM police department, since 2000 there have been seven pedestrian accidents from Granada Boulevard to Red Road. Of the seven, two were fatal and the driver was charged with carelessness.

“Ninety-two percent of all accidents are caused by drivers. We can’t engineer against a human situation-we have to educate in a positive way,” Miyales said. “Enforcement though ticketing jay walkers is one way to heighten awareness.”

Kittelson and Associates will research for immediate changes between Granada Boulevard and Red Road.

“At this point we need to focus on short-term solutions, most importantly public awareness and training,” Hernandez said.

According to officials, a training tape will be produced to caution students before crossing the streets and will be televised on the Hurry ‘Cane shuttles. The school’s maps will be reprinted to include key pedestrian walkways, and students will be made aware of pedestrian issues during Fall orientation.

“Students coming from small towns may not realize the seriousness of crossing such busy streets,” said Jeff Cohen of Miami-Dade Public Works.

The placement of the pedestrian overpass is projected to be at Mariposa Court, with access to the highway and the Metro. However, various intersections between Granada Boulevard and Red Road will be considered for the placement of the pedestrian overpass. A traffic study will be done to determine the safest point of access.

“Mariposa would be most practical for students because it is central to most of the residential halls,” Armundo Gutierrez Jr., graduate student, said.

Hernandez agreed.

“The overpass is a safety feature and should be accessible to everyone,” Hernandez said. “The ideal location for the overpass is Mariposa, because it is accessible to University students, Ponce de Leon Middle School, Doctors Hospital and other nearby businesses.”

Many other short-term solutions were suggested.

“Since there may be a visibility issue, an immediate solution would be to cut some of the trees and add flood lights,” Cohen said.

Another suggestion was to lower the speed limits. However, Rory J. Santana, the District Traffic Operations Engineer, disagreed with this suggestion.

“Reducing the speed limit results in a mixed flow of traffic, which makes it harder for pedestrians to judge before crossing, so reducing the speed is counter productive. And the driver wasn’t speeding,” Santana said, referring to the driver who hit Kelly.

Other short-term solutions under consideration include adding raised markings to give the intersection more visibility, using a pedestrian flashing light before the intersection or replacing the traffic lights with more vibrant LED traffic lights. Any changes will be implemented for intersections from Granada Boulevard to Red Road, since they are the ones most used by students.

Caralyn Pearson can be contacted at