TAMPA, Fla. — In 2021 alone, there were more than 701,000 crashes across Florida, resulting in more than 3,700 deaths and 16,000 serious injuries.
Transportation experts say Florida’s growing population will add more drivers to the road and could result in more crashes and deaths if leaders don’t take more swift action with funding and road improvements.
Valerie Jones wishes more had been done to prevent the crash that killed her teen daughter.
“I just remember getting that phone call from my mom, saying that she was hit,” she told 10 Investigates about the October 2015 morning her 17-year-old daughter, Alexis Miranda, was killed.
Miranda was standing in the median of Busch Boulevard trying to cross two more lanes of traffic on her way to Chamberlain High School when a driver using a turning lane struck her from behind.
"I can hear the lady say we don't have a pulse,” she said. “That's probably the worst thing a mother could ever hear."
Scroll to the end of this story for a county-by-county list of dangerous roads.
DANGEROUS ROADS IN HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
Busch Boulevard is consistently ranked one of the most dangerous roads in Hillsborough County. Of the hundreds of roads throughout the county, Plan Hillsborough places Busch Boulevard 27th in its top 50 "High Injury Network Corridors."
The Florida Department of Transportation has made multiple improvements to Busch over the years including the addition of:
- Speed Feedback Signs
- Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons at 12th St, Brooks Street, Overlook Drive and Pawnee Ave.
- Corridor lighting improvements
- Pedestrian islands from Armenia Ave. to Florida Ave.
Jones wishes the pedestrian islands would have been in place back in 2015.
"Her accident would have been avoided by the changes that have been made,” she said.
COMMUNITIES OF CONCERN
15th Str. between Fowler and Fletcher Avenues comes in at number ten for the county’s High Injury Network Corridors.
Gena Torres, an assistant director for Plan Hillsborough’s Transportation Planning Organization, says the location of 15th Str. adds an additional layer of worry for the county because it is surrounded by “communities of concern.”
"What that means are high-minority, low income, low auto ownership,” she said. “So, a lot of people — we'll see them here as we're standing here — will be walking, biking, taking the bus to all of their destinations, and that makes this very active, and a place that should have pedestrians treated first in the design."
Torres said these factors make the community more vulnerable to pedestrian crashes.
"What would really help is what the county did on Fletcher Avenue, where you actually can stop the traffic by pushing a button for a rectangular rapid flashing beacon,” she said.
CITY VS. COUNTY
Neighbors in South Tampa say they want one of these beacons or a regular traffic signal at Lois and Bay-to-Bay. They pressured leaders for action after two teens were killed in a high-speed crash at the intersection.
"We would like to see an expedited process for a traffic signal at that light,” said Arianne Corbett, president of the Mabry Elementary PTA.
The county is now doing a traffic study to determine what intersection improvements are warranted at Lois and Bay-to-Bay. However, transportation advocates say an interlocal agreement between the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County complicates how fast work can get done.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen said it could be time to revise the agreement.
"The interlocal agreement has been around for a while. It needs to be revisited,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen.
Transportation advocates say the agreement has become a problem for the Lois and Bay-to-Bay intersection since the county owns Bay-to-Bay although it is in the city of Tampa.
The agreement says that the county will pay for improvements for roads it owns in the city, but the county has a large backlog of projects it cannot afford to fund.
“There's an $800 million list of projects county-wide that need to be done to improve safety, congestion, intersections sidewalks, signalization,” said Cohen.
Documents from the city of Tampa’s Mobility Department to the Hillsborough County Public Works Department show Tampa has been asking the county to pay for a traffic signal at Lois and Bay-to-Bay for years.
"It was in the queue with a lot of other projects all over the county," said Cohen.
Cohen says the one-cent transportation sales tax that voters approved in 2018 would have helped. However, the Florida Supreme Court struck it down.
"We've lost precious time in terms of getting some of these things done,” said Cohen.
Despite challenges cities and counties face statewide when it comes to funding road improvements, Alana Braiser says there are lots of places where leaders are making progress.
"We're trying to make our city safer for everyone,” she said.
Braiser is the Vision Zero coordinator for the City of Tampa, and she works toward Vision Zero’s goal of eliminating crashes and fatalities on the roads. She says changes along 34th Str. in East Tampa are a success story for the city.
“This project took this high-speed, high-frequency crash corridor down to two lanes. We've added roundabouts in at key intersections to help reduce the risk of those severe crashes, added bike lanes, added more lighting, added more crossings in.”
Braiser says the city is also focused on reducing speed and adding improvements where it can.
“The more we focus on creating those safe streets, the more vibrant and walkable and friendly our city becomes,” she said.
A mission Jones says she will never give up. She has worked closely with Vision Zero since her daughter was killed.
“I understand that things do take time, but you know it's children's lives, people's lives that we're talking about,” she said. “So how long does it really need to take?”
TOP TEN DANGEROUS ROADS/INTERSECTIONS BY COUNTY
- Brandon Boulevard from Falkenburg Road to Dover Road
- Gibsonton Drive/Boyette Road from I-75 to Balm Riverview Road
- Hillsborough Avenue from Longboat Boulevard to Florida Avenue
- Fletcher Avenue from Armenia Avenue to 50th Street
- Dale Mabry from Hillsborough Avenue to Bearss Avenue
- Lynn Turner from Gunn Highway to Ehrlich Road
- Meridian Avenue from Channelside Drive to Twiggs Street
- Bruce B. Downs from Fowler Avenue to Bearss Avenue
- 50th/56th St. from MLK Boulevard to Hillsborough Avenue
- 15th St. from Fowler Avenue to Fletcher Avenue
Source: Hillsborough County Transportation Planning Organization
- Cortez Road/44th Ave. W from Calm Harbor Street to 1st St. W.
- SR 70/53rd Ave. from US 41/14th St. W to 301 Blvd/15th St. E
- Cortez Road/44th Ave. W from 82nd St. W to 30th St. W.
- 26th St. W from 56th Avenue to Cortez Rd./44th Avenue W.
- 9th St. E from Twin Oaks Blvd to US 301
- 26th St. W from Cortez Road/44th Ave. W. to 26th Avenue W.
- 15th St. E. (301 Blvd. E) from SR 70 (53rd Ave) to 26th Ave E.
- Gulf Drive from 58th Street to Holmes Blvd
- N. Bay Blvd from Pine Ave to Poinsettia Road
Source: Transform 2045 Safety/Security 2018 Safety Assessment Report
- U.S. 41 @ SR 54
- Little Road (CR 1) @ Ridge Road
- SR 54 @ Little Road (CR 1)
- SR 581 @ Wesley Chapel Boulevard
- SR 54 @ Collier Parkway
- SR 54 @ Eiland Boulevard
- SR 56 @ SR 581
- US 41 @ SR 52
- US 19 @ SR 52
- US 19 @ Moog Road
Source: Florida Department of Transportation
- I-275 @ 38th Ave. N.
- I-275 interchange @ Roosevelt Boulevard
- I-275 interchange @ Gandy Boulevard
- US-19 @ Gulf to Bay Boulevard
- US-19 @ Tampa Road
- I-275 @ 22nd Ave. N.
- US-19 @ Curlew Road
- US-19 @ 38th Ave. N.
- I-275 @ 4th St. N. Bridge Eastbound
- I-275 interchange @ 54th Ave. N.
Source: Forward Pinellas
- Swift Road from Parma Street to Grand Cayman
- US 301/Washington Blvd. from 10th St. to 30th St
- US 301/Washington Blvd from 30th St. to before Desoto Road
- Bahia Vista St. from Carter Avenue to Grand Avenue
- Wilkinson Road from Atwood Clay Circle to Cattleman Road
- SR 780/Fruitville Road from School Avenue to Bearded Oaks Drive
- Ocean Boulevard/Beach Boulevard from Tenacity Lane to Hour Glass Way
- Main St. from Bayfront Dr. to US 301/Washington Road
- Albee Farm Road from Bay Breeze Health and Rehab Center Driveway to W. Lucaya Avenue
Source: Transform 2045 Safety/Security 2018 Safety Assessment Report