Making dangerous Clearwater intersection safer

Clearwater, Florida -- It's become a dangerous and deadly intersection in Clearwater: Gulf To Bay Boulevard at Belcher Road.

In May, a retired officer-turned school crossing guard was killed by a driver who police say was speeding. That accident and others have put the spotlight on the intersection.

On Tuesday, police, FDOT engineers, and city and county staff are taking a hard look what changes can be made to make the area safer. A dozen employees walked and drove through the intersection. They're looking at everything from how cars interact with pedestrians, to speed, sun-glare, signage and red-light runners. They're trying to prevent another tragedy.

"We started looking at all the crashes that were happening in this area, and there's way too many crashes that are happening out there," says FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.

In fact, there was a fender bender that very morning between an SUV and a convertible, as FDOT engineers and other inspectors were at the intersection looking at ways to make it safer.

FDOT discovered there are more crashes at Gulf To Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road than at just about any other area in Clearwater.

A study shows that from 2009 to 2013, there were 153 crashes at or near the intersection. Forty-four percent (68) were rear-end collisions, 25 percent (39) happened at night, 14 percent (21) happened as drivers were trying to make left hand turns.

That's what happened in early June, when a car turned into a motorcyclist and sent him spinning through the air. The accident was recorded on a red-light camera.

PHOTOS: Motorcyclist cartwheels through the air after being hit

Four days earlier, driver Julious Johnson is accused of speeding through a red light at 70 miles an hour; the speed limit on Gulf To Bay Boulevard is 40 miles per hour. It caused a chain-reaction crash that killed crossing guard Doug Carey.

"We're going to look at signs and signals, we're going to look at drainage issues, ADA issues, they're looking at everything at this intersection what we need to do to make it safer," says Carson.

In the short time that 10 News crews were out at the intersection Tuesday morning, several people did not use the crosswalk. Police say that's a big problem.

Officers say this is also one of two intersections in Clearwater that red light cameras are enforced, but police say they don't have a spot to sit where they can safely pull out to immediately catch red light violators in the act.

The City of Clearwater hopes to have new software in place by end of August that will help fix problems timing the traffic lights to ease congestion.

The group will discuss the problems they found on their tour of the intersection on Tuesday afternoon. 10 News will have continuing coverage of their solutions beginning on 10 News at 5 p.m.

More Stories on this Dangerous Intersection


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