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Deadly St. Petersburg intersection will get traffic signal

4:00 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Robert Shepherd once said he thought the intersection at the entrance of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg was a tragedy waiting to happen because it did not have a traffic signal.

It's hard to believe, but Shepherd was later killed in a crash at that very intersection.

Now the state of Florida has decided to put a traffic signal there.

On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Kathleen Peters announced the state Department of Transportation has conducted a study of the intersection and agreed to install a signal at the intersection on 54th Avenue South.

That location had a signal at one time but Florida Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said the city of St. Petersburg removed it in 1992.

Shepherd, who was a professor at the college, led a campaign to have a new red light signal installed in 2001 but the state rejected that request.

In an eery twist, he died when his vehicle was T-boned on the driver's side at that intersection by a pickup truck last November.

Shepherd's death became the "tragedy waiting to happen" that he had predicted years earlier.

"Unfortunately in this situation, the gentleman that made the comment lost his life and that's unfortunate. But we try to base it on data and engineering rather than being an emotional decision," said Prasad.

After Shepherd's death, Sen. Brandes says he pushed for a study to determine whether the intersection needed a traffic signal.

"We pressed the secretary to conduct a study. The study was conducted. It did prove that the intersection warranted a signal and we're very happy with the outcome and that we're going to have a signal there shortly."

Eckerd College petitioned the state for traffic signal at the intersection in 2009, but that request was rejected.

Prasad said the latest study found traffic volumes and turn movements justified a new signal.

"Whether an intersection gets a signal is based on science. There's years, decades of engineering study and data gathering all the states use the same criteria whether to put a signal at an intersection or not."

Prasad predicts it could take about a year to install the new traffic signal at Eckerd College.

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