TAMPA, Fla. — A $2.7 million project is underway to help improve pedestrian safety in downtown St. Pete.
The Florida Department of Transportation is working on 10 intersections along 4th Street, adding features to make it safer for people walking.
Jeff Mann lives in the area and enjoys taking his dog for a walk around the block, but says he doesn't always feel safe walking along 4th Street.
“A lot of cars are flying through there pretty quickly and quite a few don’t stop for pedestrians, even though they’re supposed to," he said.
Crews are working to install curb bulb-outs, which narrow the road and give pedestrians more space to walk. They also help slow down cars, increase yield rates to pedestrians and reduce crashes, said FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson.
Data from the agency shows that between 2015-2019 there were 364 crashes along 4th Street, 17 of them involving pedestrians.
Safety for those crossing the street is one of the top priorities for Forward Pinellas, a group dedicated to promoting mobility across the county.
“Everyone, at some point during their day, is a pedestrian," said Forward Pinellas planning manager Chelsea Favero. "We all drive cars, there’s lots of people around that like to drive bikes and we really want to make sure that it’s safe for everyone to do it, regardless of how you get around. Not everyone owns a car — some people choose not to own a car, some people cannot afford one.”
New pedestrian signs will also be added as part of the project. Mann said he's hopeful the additions will make his walks around the neighborhood feel a bit safer.
“Anything they can do to make drivers more aware of pedestrians and cyclists, and be able to share the road together, I think is a good thing, from my standpoint," he said.
A similar project has already been completed on 3rd Street, and after seeing its success, city officials asked FDOT to do the same work on 4th Street, Carson said. FDOT officials say the ultimate goal is to make downtown more walkable than it is now.
The work along 4th Street is expected to be finished early next year.