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Safety enhancements coming to intersection where Plant High students died

There will be new pedestrian beacons, pavement markings, signs, and reconfigured crosswalks.

TAMPA, Fla. — Three months after a tragic accident in South Tampa that took the lives of two Plant High School students, work is about to begin on safety improvements at that same intersection.

Neighbors have complained for years of safety issues at the corner of Lois Avenue and Bay to Bay Boulevard. And while most support any safety improvements at the intersection, some would like to see even more.

“I’ll never forget it,” said Carroll Ann Bennett, still haunted by what she heard and then saw just around the corner from her South Tampa home this past December.

The accident scene at Lois Avenue and Bay to Bay Boulevard is where Plant High School teenagers, Ben Francis and Taylor Koulouris were killed in a motorcycle collision.

“I heard the crash. It was so loud,” said Bennett, “And I ran over to see if there was anything I could do to help. And it was just absolutely heartbreaking.”

For years, people living near the intersection have warned city and county workers that something like this could happen. After the deadly wreck, their voices grew louder.

Now, starting Monday, they’ll start to see improvements. According to plans obtained by 10 Tampa Bay, new pedestrian beacons will be installed. There will also be new pavement markings, signs, and reconfigured crosswalks.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Tom Connelly, President of the Virginia Park Neighborhood Association. “It’s terrible, you know, that it takes blood to get something done.”

Hillsborough County says it recently conducted a study at the intersection and will perform another one in a few months to see if more enhancements are warranted.

The county says the improvements that will start going in at this intersection we’re already in the works. December’s fatal crash elevated the urgency to get the work done as soon as possible.

“We’d like to see that study when it comes out and be involved in the input on any decision on what the final outcome will be,” said Connelly.

Several neighbors, like Bennett, say the work starting Monday will help when it comes to pedestrians, but that she and others think the intersection still needs a full traffic light.

“I absolutely hate that the people who knew that this intersection was dangerous are able to say we told you so,” said Bennett. “And we don’t want to have to say it again.”

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