TAMPA, Fla. -- We hate to say I told you so, but earlier this week 10News warned the city of Tampa that their construction project detour along Bayshore Boulevard might be dangerous for those who use the 4.5 mile stretch for exercise.
Well, Friday morning, someone nearly got killed. Their bicycle was crushed at one of the intersections where people are being forced to cross the busy roadway.
We found out the victim of that accident was none other than former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Frank Murphy, who says something needs to be done fast.
“I almost died,” said Murphy, standing at the same intersection where the accident had happened hours earlier.
The former Buc says he's lucky to be alive. He was just inches from being hit by a car this morning in a construction zone along Bayshore. The woman driving the car, said Murphy, never slowed down.
“When she got out of the car, she said 'I thought you were dead. I thought that I had killed you,' basically,” said Murphy.
Murphy was biking along Bayshore when he ran into the spot where construction work is forcing people to cross the busy roadway to the residential side.
On Tuesday, we brought it to the city's attention how dangerous that might be.
On Friday, Murphy nearly became the first casualty.
“She came right at me,” Murphy said, choking up as he was thinking about it, “And when it came at me, I immediately did a football move. It was just natural reaction. I threw the bike, and hopped back. And she hit the bike and took it with her. Luckily it wasn't me.”
Nick Friedman says he’s lived right across the street for about five years, and thinks they need to make major safety improvements along Bayshore Boulevard. He says he’s witnessed numerous accidents, including Murphy’s close call.
“I look out my window, I see a bicyclist and a car, and the police vehicle there picking up the pieces off the road basically,” said Friedman, “And I came out to see what it happened I said 'Oh my God, not another one.'”
By Friday afternoon the city had posted new pedestrian crossing signs, Tampa police officers were on-hand, and city workers were narrowing traffic down to one lane well before the crosswalk, not just at it.
“Right now, it does continue to be a problem with people being able to cross safely,” said Tampa’s Transportation Director Jean Duncan.
Duncan said they realize now that even those steps probably don’t go far enough.
The plan now is to keep people on the bay side of the street by creating a temporary pathway around the construction site. Flagmen will direct pedestrians during construction hours so they won’t have to cross Bayshore. And after hours the site will be secured enough to allow people to get around it without crossing the street.
“Safety is our goal,” said Duncan, “And we are very concerned about it.”
Murphy says in some ways he's glad this happened to him as opposed to someone else, because his name recognition might have convinced the city to open its eyes.
“If that was a mom, with her kids in the stroller, she wouldn't have been able to do that,” he said, referring to his quick athletic reflexes. “So, yes, this is very dangerous.”
Murphy says he understands the city needs to do work. But he expects citizen safety to be a priority.
“If you need to work on something, my God, get it fixed,” said Murphy, “But at the end of the day make sure that you have the proper safety in place for people that have to go around all the work that you're doing.”
The sidewalk project is expected to last two months.
Tampa officials predicted the temporary detour path on the bay-side of the street should be in place in time for Friday evening's rush-hour.
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