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FDOT Approves Traffic Signal Device for Eckerd College Entrance

posted on 02/13/2013

On Wednesday, February 13, a formal statement announcing Florida Department of Transportation's approval of a new traffic control device at the entrance to Eckerd College was made in Tallahassee. There, they unveiled a rendering of the redesign of the intersection with a traffic signal.

FDOT Eckerd signalization rendering

In advance of the announcement, Eckerd College President Dr. Donald R. Eastman III circulated the following response to current faculty, staff, students and members of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC).

Dear Eckerd College Community:

Our efforts have paid off.

I have been advised by Senator Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Florida Senate Transportation Committee, that a formal statement announcing the approval of a new traffic control device at the entrance to Eckerd College will be made at a press conference Wednesday morning, February 13, 2013. Senator Brandes will be joined by Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, Senator Jack Latvala, and Representative Kathleen Peters '99 at the State Capitol Building in Tallahassee. There they will unveil a rendering of the redesign of the intersection with a traffic signal.

Bob ShepherdIt was, of course, the death of Bob Shepherd, who died in a car accident on the Pinellas Bayway after exiting campus November 7, that galvanized the ongoing efforts to secure this signal. Bob was a Rhodes Scholar, U.S. diplomat, government trade negotiator, a true gentleman and member of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College. We continue to keep Al and Blackie Sparzani, injured in that accident, in our hearts and prayers. In the wake of that tragedy, the Eckerd community pulled together to advocate through letters, petitions, phone calls and in-person visits with elected officials and administrators to realize Bob’s long-time goal of making the entrance to Eckerd safer.

We are very grateful for the support and thoughtful response from our elected officials, including Senator Brandes, Senator Latvala and Representative Peters, as well as Governor Rick Scott, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners, the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, the St.Petersburg City Council and countless others, who worked tirelessly to make this possible.

It was determined that the installation process could take up to a year. Officials and administrators weighed in following the announcement:

"The installation of this new signal at the entrance of Eckerd College is about public safety," said Secretary Prasad. "Before any decisions are made to install a device like this we look to the data to determine if it is the best course of action. After studying this intersection the Department has concluded that a signal here will best promote public safety."

Senator Brandes commented, "I would like to thank Secretary Prasad for his leadership and data driven decision to secure the signal at this intersection. The death of Robert Shepherd on November 7th is a tragedy. He advocated for years to have a signal installed at the intersection. I hope that this signal will prevent any future accidents."

Representative Kathleen Peters, a 1999 Eckerd alumna, stated, "I am pleased that the Department of Transportation moved quickly to conduct this study and generate a positive response. It is my hope that the project will be expedited quickly with little or no delay as the safety of our residents and guests is of the utmost importance."

In addition to coverage by various television stations, the following media outlets have reported on this major update.

Eckerd intersection where man died to get a traffic light
Tampa Bay Times
February 13, 2013

New red light approved for Eckerd College entrance
WFLA Ch. 8
February 13, 2013

Deadly St. Pete intersection described as tragedy waiting to happen will get traffic signal
WTSP Channel 10
February 13, 2013

Fatal crash sparks push for Eckerd College traffic light
Bay News 9
February 13, 2013

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