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Eckerd College Urges Continued Action to Secure Traffic Signal at Campus Entrance

posted on 11/30/2012

 Bob Shepherd

Bob Shepherd
, a beloved member of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College, died in a car accident on the Pinellas Bayway/54th Avenue S on November 7, 2012, after exiting Eckerd's campus. Since then, the College and members of its community have been energetically engaged in numerous initiatives to persuade the Florida Department of Transportation to install a traffic signal at the campus's entrance. The College has been untiring in its efforts to obtain a traffic signal since 2000.  

While several actions have already been taken singularly and collectively, individuals are encouraged to participate through these ongoing efforts:

  • One can sign the petition started by the College and intended for Florida Governor Rick Scott. Started on November 14, 'Prevent another tragedy along Pinellas Bayway' has garnered more than 3,800 signatures. Now, the neighboring communities of Dolphin Cay and Marina Bay are promoting the petition to their residents. Help us reach our new goal of 5,000 signatures by visiting www.eckerd.edu/petition and following the instructions.

  • Al and Blackie Sparzani were passengers in Bob's car; Al is recovering in assisted living in the College's neighboring Allegro facility; Blackie, who suffered critical injuries, continues to be hospitalized and in our prayers. Notes of encouragement and support can be sent to ASPEC in Lewis House and will be delivered to the Sparzanis.

  • A celebration of Bob Shepherd's life will be held in the Cobb Gallery on the Eckerd College campus on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at 4:00 pm. Members of the Eckerd community are invited to attend. RSVP to 727.864.8871 or presidents-events@eckerd.edu.

  • Several legislative leaders at the state, county and city levels have expressed their support for our plea. One can show appreciation for their backing by writing a note of thanks to those listed in the third bullet point below.

With strong reinforcement from ASPEC members, students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents, advisory boards and councils, volunteers and friends, the College has engaged in various tactics to renew its efforts for a traffic signal:

  • Immediately after the accident, President Donald Eastman engaged in strategy conversations with Trustees and legislative leaders (former and current). President Eastman, ASPEC members and others began email and letter-writing campaigns.

  • Dr. Eastman sent an official letter from the College to Florida Governor Rick Scott.

  • As a result of President Eastman's leadership on this issue and our combined efforts, we have received expressions of support from our legislative leaders: re-elected Senator Jack Latvala, former Chair of the Senate's Transportation Committee; newly elected Senator Jeff Brandes, new Chair of the Senate's Transportation Committee; newly elected Representative Kathleen Peters '99; Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch; St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and the entire St. Petersburg City Council.

  • On November 14, President Eastman, ASPEC member Bill Stickley and Ethics Bowl Team participant Ryan Jarrett '13 addressed the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization; on November 19, Dr. Eastman addressed the St. Petersburg City Council. Both entities adopted action items asking the Florida Department of Transportation to revisit the need for a traffic light at the College entrance, which has now been underscored by the addition of the Pinellas Bike Trail across the College's entrance, increasing density in St. Pete Beach, and expected traffic increase when the new bridge (no longer a drawbridge) to/from St. Pete Beach is completed.

  • On November 28, Mayor Bill Foster spoke at an ASPEC Public Forum where he assured ASPEC members of the City's support of the installation of a traffic signal.

  • The Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Office has begun its review by running their traffic counts. While it is the Department's practice to consider "warrants" (sets of statistics), we all are encouraging them to consider the complexity of the intersection as the factor that carries the most weight.

This situation continues to garner media attention, including continuous coverage from Eckerd's student newspaper, The Current. Links to various articles can be found below: 

Three weeks after fatal traffic accident outside of Eckerd College, Mayor Foster says he's optimistic about new streetlight
Creative Loafing Tampa
November 28, 2012

MPO requests review of fatal crash site near Eckerd College
Tampa Bay Times
November 20, 2012
- Written by Jeralyn Darling '13

Effort underway to get stoplight at Eckerd entrance
Fox 13 Tampa Bay
November 14, 2012

Breaking news: Fight for the Light continues
The Current
November 14, 2012
- Written by Jeralyn Darling '13

State Sen. Jack Latvala pushes for stoplight
Bay Buzz
November 13, 2012

Deadly crossing needs a stoplight
Tampa Bay Times
November 10, 2012

Crash at St. Petersburg intersection kills man who fought for stoplight there
Tampa Bay Times
November 9, 2012

Man who was killed at intersection where he requested traffic light remembered by friends
WFTS - ABC Action News
November 9, 2012

Students and faculty react to news of the death of ASPEC member
The Current
November 8, 2012
- Written by Jeralyn Darling '13

One ASPEC member dies in wreck, two others injured
The Current
November 7, 2012
- Written by Malena Carollo '13

The College will continue to keep you apprised of its progress. Thank you for your continued support and feedback as we strive to keep the safety of our community at the highest priority.

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