Roosevelt Boulevard tragedy highlights safety concerns

July 17, 2013 3:44:17 PM PDT
Safety has long been an issue along Roosevelt Boulevard.

After Tuesday night's tragic deaths of a mother and three of her young sons, those who live here are saying, 'Enough is enough.' They want something done.

"I'm going to try to collect at least over 4,000 signatures from my block to the corridor where it happened," said Leslie Ayala of Olney.

The 12-mile long boulevard has been the scene of many accidents over the years.

From 2008 to 2012, 17 people were killed walking along the busy roadway.

No pedestrians were killed in the area where Samara Banks and her sons were hit Tuesday night during that same time period.

"It's very difficult. There's no overpass or anything like that for pedestrians to be able to cross. So it's difficult. And people just drive too fast oftentimes. I don't know about last night, but certainly you see a lot of speeding," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

PennDOT officials tell Action News even though there is a sidewalk, the area where Banks was hit is not supposed to be a pedestrian crossing.

"I think there's a lot of locations along the boulevard where citizens may choose to cross that are not marked for pedestrians. We really encourage all citizens to walk to a signal light intersection which is properly marked for pedestrians," said PennDOT's Gene Blaum.

The agency says all the crosswalks along the boulevard are now clearly marked at intersections with traffic lights, countdown timers and painted markings on the street.

Those who live near the scene of Tuesday's tragedy say there isn't a marked crossing close by, so using an existing section of sidewalk makes sense.

"If you would put something for them to walk across there, then why don't you let these people know coming up that hill that this is pedestrian crossing or something," said resident Jeremiah Bethea.

City Council President Darrell Clarke agrees more needs to be done to keep people safe. And he feels certain this accident will renew the ongoing discussions on safety.

"I think we need to be in a position to put whatever traffic-calming device we can to allow safe crossing throughout the boulevard," said Clarke.

PennDOT officials say they aren't sure when or why the existing sidewalk was put in.

They know it's been here since before 1992, and has never been designated as an official crosswalk.

They are asking people only to cross at stop lights with marked crosswalks.


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