BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith said he is frustrated that the Florida Department of Transportation hasn’t made any changes to the crosswalk signal on State Road A1A where 12-year-old Sophia Nelson was killed.
"I come from the private sector where when you have a problem you fix it and you get it done and you move on," Smith said. "This is government and it moves a whole lot differently than the private sector. So yes I am frustrated."
On Friday, Satellite Beach Mayor Frank Catino sent a letter to FDOT asking for the department to replace flashing yellow lights with red lights at all of the 18 newly-installed mid-block crosswalk signals up and down A1A in Brevard County. Catino also asked the speed limit be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph and for signs to be posted at crosswalks warning pedestrians of the danger.
In response, FDOT spokesman Steve Olson said FDOT is considering options.
"The Department has had extensive coordination with local partners and stakeholders in implementing pedestrian safety improvements along the State Road (S.R.) A1A corridor," Olson said. "We appreciate the community’s partnership and will continue focusing on future opportunities to improve safety. We understand the urgency and will continue very close coordination as we evaluate the recommendations being brought forth by all parties."
Smith said at Tuesday night’s County Commission meeting he will propose sending a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking that the governor get involved in overhauling the crosswalks.
"Now my problem right now is how fast is that going to happen, is that going to be a two-week process?" Smith said. "A two-year process? We have to move faster rather than slower."
Sophia Nelson was killed after stepping out into the crosswalk at A1A and Ellwood Avenue by a driver going full speed, according to her parents. They said she pushed the button to activate the yellow blinking lights.
"How these lights ever got installed in the first place is beyond my comprehension," Smith said. "Yellow lights don't cause people to stop, and if kids think by pushing the button and they can safely walk across the road they're going to pay. And we're all going to pay."
Tuesday afternoon, hours before the commission meeting, drivers still weren’t stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks on A1A even while the yellow lights were activated.
"It is an education thing, but how many people are we going to lose the next ten years before the public is educated enough to know that you're supposed to stop at yellow lights," Smith said. "And education isn't the key, I've heard that said, but it's not the key, because we have so many out-of-state an out-of-town people here and tourists that they have no clue what yellow flashing lights mean."
Pam Sjodahl said yesterday she was almost run over in a crosswalk along A1A.
"We started across and the gentleman was making a left turn almost ran right into me," Sjodahl said.
Sjodahl's husband said his wife "kind of had to jump back to get out of the way."
“The biggest challenge is to get the Governor in to intercede on our behalf, to get FDOT to move along because he has the power to do that,” Smith said. “If we have to rely on FDOT I’m afraid we might still be talking about this subject to years from now.”