Orange County, UCF projects will address pedestrian safety concerns

$8.8M construction project to start soon

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County is working with the University of Central Florida to keep students safe after a number of pedestrian deaths and crashes on and near campus.

County officials approved $8.8 million in funding to improve pedestrian safety near campus, with a portion of the project funded by the university.

County leaders say they're waiting for the green light from the purchasing committee to begin construction on phase 1.

Phase 1 of the safety project will include adding more pedestrian lighting, putting up median fencing, installing a 10-foot pedestrian bike path on Alafaya Trail, improving the crosswalks and adding more signage.

In the most recent pedestrian crash, 19-year-old UCF student Mariana Bornacelli, was crossing the street last Thursday near University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail when troopers said she was hit by a car. According to the crash report, she crossed outside of a crosswalk.

Bornacelli's friends set up an online fundraiser to help cover her hospital bills.

In 2014, 19-year-old Brooke Dawkins died crossing the street near campus when troopers said she walked out in front of a truck. Her organs were later used to save four lives and restore sight for two others.

Rueul Buchanan, 21, was killed crossing the street not far from campus last April. Buchanan was a leader on campus at UCF and also a mentor. Troopers said the driver who hit Buchanan had the right of way, though Buchanan was crossing in a crosswalk. 

Buchanan's former roommate and best friend is still grieving.

"I can’t even count how many tears, but it’s been countless," said Shane Walker. "It's super sad that he had to pass that way."

Walker told News 6 he can appreciate the funding being allocated by county leaders and UCF to keep students and pedestrians safe.

"It’s definitely a good thing that they’re allocating funding towards keeping pedestrians safe because it’s clearly a problem," he said. 

People on campus at UCF said they're hoping the new safety changes will prevent so many pedestrians crashes.

"It’ll bring a lot more safety to the students instead of crossing the street when they’re going to class," said UCF freshman Jenna Barron.

UCF told News 6 the UCF Police Department is producing a safety video to warn students about pedestrian safety and adding more pedestrian signs on campus. They’re working with Orange County officials to add more pedestrian changes at major intersections on and near the campus.

There was talk about the county building a pedestrian bridge but a study done in 2014 found that it would not be cost-effective and that pedestrians wouldn’t use it.

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