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Latest deadly crash on Fort Pierce road renews fight for more safety measures

Residents are calling for additional safety measures on Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce.jpg
Posted at 10:13 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 10:36:10-05

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Frustrations are boiling over for people who live along Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce over what they call "yet another" deadly crash.

Some residents have been pleading for years to county and state leaders to do more to make the roadway safer. Now, even one St. Lucie County Commissioner says he’s tired of waiting.

Fort Pierce Police say a 19-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman hit each other head-on on the roadway on Super Bowl Sunday. The woman died. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Despite not knowing the details of what lead to this most recent deadly crash, residents still feel speeding, reckless driving, illegal passing, and other dangerous behavior is too common. Law enforcement has responded to those concerns over the years by stepping up enforcement, placing radar signs along the drive, and writing hundreds of tickets.

Resident Jackie Fitzpatrick has been vocal over the need to do more.

“The time was yesterday to have done something about it,” Fitzpatrick said.

"Motor vehicle accidents are continuing to happen on a weekly, monthly basis,” said Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky.

Dzadovsky says he feels there is a lack of urgency from state and county engineers to add more safety measures on the scenic highway.

“I’m not asking for the world. I’m asking to save lives…We get incremental changes that are not enough to save lives,” Dzadovsky said.

“I have never come out and been so angry,” Dzadovsky said.

Dzadovsky says only one stop sign has been installed on the intersection of Walton Road and Indian River Drive. He also wants them installed at Midway Road and Savannah Road.

Solid, double yellow lines were also painted on the drive.

A study in 2017 paid for by the county recommended more measures.

That included installing raised audible pavement markings as edge and centerline striping to give drivers the perception of lane narrowing, which would cost an estimated $350,000.

The study recommends installing traverse pavement markings with transverse rumble strips for an estimated $15,000. It also suggests replacing 18 of the posted speed limit signs with radar speed feedback signs to encourage speeding motorists to reduce their vehicular speeds by providing real-time feedback for an estimated $150,000.

“You paid the money for these studies. What did the professionals recommend? Let’s start putting them in place,” Fitzpatrick said.

In an email from public works to commissioners this week, in light of the latest deadly crash, staff said the county is moving forward with two projects, saying the original concept was to implement the projects over a span of three years, but they are now looking to expedite the improvements and look for additional funding.

One project being implemented involves the design and construction of an additional three way stop at Midway Road and Indian River Drive. First, they need to collect field, traffic counts and conduct a study. Once that is complete, the county commission can vote to approve it.

There is still no firm timeline for when that will be completed.

County staff is also preparing a traffic study for the Savannah Road intersection, though it is in the city of Fort Pierce. Staff is not sure if a three-way stop would meet state requirements because of the lower levels of traffic, according to the email. But staff is collecting the field data and traffic counts required for a study.

“They have to meet certain criteria, I get that. They’re doing their job. But I’ve got dead people on this road. I’ve got neighbors who have had enough," Dzadovsky said.

He feels enough studies have been conducted to warrant the added safety measures and just wants to move forward with implementation.

“The studies are probably close to $100,000 already,” Dzadovsky said.

“The major delays from what boils down to bureaucracy at its finest is very, very frustrating,” said Fitzpatrick.

The email goes on to say that $250,000 was budgeted this fiscal year to being implementing traffic calming improvements, to include specialized roadway striping and signage along 6 miles on Indian River Drive between Walton road and Midway road, because that stretch has a higher incidence of speeding. Radar speed warning signs will also be installed with raised pavement markings and reflectors.

A field survey has already been completed, and design work will begin soon, the email says, with approval for the project slated to be voted on at the February 23 commission meeting, expecting preliminary design plans within 30-45 days after contract approval.

“I’m done being angry. And if I have to come to you, if I have to come to the media, and the neighborhood daily rto get their support to show up at the meetings, I’m doing it now,” Dzadovsky said.