Remember this? JTA & Councilwoman Boyer Get It Right!

September 11, 2014 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In November 2011, Metro Jacksonville's Robert Mann praised the immediate improvements made by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) after tipping off Councilwoman Lori Boyer's office of some seriously nasty and dangerous problems with a Southside bus stop. Just when we thought it was safe to relax in our apparent success, it appears the job was left unfinished and now there's a beloved grandmother's death to explain.

Remember this story?

It was the tale of a retirement village-- a heavily used bus stop (or lack of one, depending on your point of view) and a busy street crossing without a cross walk.

San Jose Manor Apartments is a beautiful retirement complex for those who are 55+ years of age...

In addition to the stop being spread out and resembling a city dump, there was a serious question of safety.

...And on the southbound side, the bus stop is in the middle of the block, nowhere near the intersection where one might expect to see someone trying to walk across the street. The nearest cross walk is at the intersection of Old Kings Road and St. Augustine Road, about a quarter of a mile north, protected by a stoplight.

This was observed in a story published on Metro Jacksonville on November 4, 2011.

Now, curious, I walked to the other bus stops east of the apartments at Old Kings Road and Galicia. Same story here too... a messy sand pile with an old wooden bench for passenger discomfort. Northbound needed cleaning up and a trash can, while southbound needed to be moved out of a rotten sand pit.

I started snapping photos, drew up a solution... and sent the package to Councilwoman Lori Boyer. t's a heavily used stop. Within a week, I got a call from Ms. Boyer's aid telling me the stops would be fixed. Almost immediately, JTA had the sidewalk torn up and painted markers and flags on the corners of St. Augustine and Galicia/Cadiz. Within three weeks a bus shelter went up on the new sidewalk on the corner of Galicia and St. Augustine. The bus stop on the southbound side of St. Augustine was moved up to the northside of Cadiz. The Old Kings Road stops were also fixed accordingly.

The article was written as JTA completed the work on the northbound side and marked up the southbound St. Augustine Road stop. Apparently we were wrong to believe the job would actually be completed. True to form, did not.

You will recall my prediction of a deadly situation occurring at this very corner as cars speed along (45 MPH) and blow between the bus stops on either side and across an imaginary cross walk.

In 2011, I wrote:

There is still the problem of these often feeble senior citizens having to play frogger while trying to cross over to the southbound side of St. Augustine Road. A painted cross walk with a standard, diamond-shaped, pedestrian crossing sign would at least make this a legal, if not safer location. I'm certain if this was an oversight, pressure will be forthcoming to correct it. But problems can be addressed, and with a little initiative, can be solved.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been so 'certain,' and should blame myself for not re-re-checking on this and raising a major alarm. This is what I saw as a correction, and after they completed the northbound side, what was seen on the southbound side when we ran with the story.

In the graphic above, we suggested the crosswalks, and included the idea of a yellow diamond sign on each side of the street with flashing cross walk lights.

This photo was taken along the curb on the northwest corner of Cadiz and Old St. Augustine Road. It was assumed phase two would complete the job but we were tragically wrong!

On Wednesday September 10, 2014, a Jacksonville resident lost her life at this intersection.

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They did an amazing job on the northbound side, note the pharmacy seen in the video in the background.

Before: November 2011

After: September 2014

Police said Hanifa Mesic stepped out in front of a car driven by a 71-year-old man heading northbound on St. Augustine Road just south of Old Kings Road just before 10:30 a.m. Witnesses told police the driver was going the speed limit.

Police said surveillance video from nearby businesses confirms what witnesses told them. The video shows Mesic getting of a bus and crossing the road, waiting for cars to pass, then crossing. That's when she was hit.

Police believe Mesic was heading home from the grocery store because groceries were spread onto the road...

...She was taken to a hospital, where she died.

"I just can't believe it happened. I just think it's a bad dream and I'm going to wake up."
Channel 4 - MJ News Partner:

Ms. Alvarez deserves the credit for bringing this to our attention, in 2011 and in 2014. Lori Boyer is to be commended on immediate and effective action for cracking the whip and getting JTA to spring into action. Likewise, JTA has done an excellent job of making one side of this busy street an inviting place to wait for a bus. Unfortunately, the dangerous conditions on the other side of the street were never addressed, and as a result, a woman lies in the morgue.  

Editorial and photos by Bob Mann.