By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(May 25, 2016) – Many of the featured articles in this newsletter have been about new capital projects, development, and many other new challenges in our City. But this article is about the “not so new” areas of the west side of our City where we have a high concentration of residents who mostly live in mid-rise condominiums and apartments surrounded by mature trees and older sidewalks. Many of these sidewalks predate the incorporation of our City. Over the years they have developed cracks, uneven joints caused by settlement, tree roots, and other factors.
This past year the City embarked on a safety program to evaluate and inspect all sidewalks on the west side of the city and make necessary repairs. This program resulted in the elimination of over 22 trip hazards from existing sidewalks throughout the City. Most of this phase of the project involved grinding down raised slabs and uneven joints in the concrete.
This program has been acknowledged by the City’s general liability insurer Preferred Governmental Insurance Trust (PGIT).
The City was awarded one of PGIT’s yearly $5,000 incentive grants recognizing our efforts to create a safer environment for pedestrians, while reducing the liability risk within the City.
Although this project may get very little attention, it is one that has made a positive impact for many residents, especially the elderly. We haven’t forgotten all those who use our sidewalks regularly going to church, temple, school, parks, or shopping.
Pedestrians will also be pleased to know that through the efforts of our Police Department, FDOT has approved signage at the intersection of 178 Street and Collins Avenue advising vehicles to yield to pedestrians. The signs “Turning Vehicle Yield to
Pedestrians” will face the eastbound right and left turn movements. FDOT has also requested that the Miami-Dade Traffic Control Center provide a 3 second leading pedestrian interval to allow pedestrians to get a head start crossing Collins Avenue
(A1A). For your own safety, always remain cautious and be certain that the vehicles see you before you walk in their path.
Another safety concern for pedestrians are the many driveways that they must cross when walking throughout our City. As motorists exit their condominium’s driveways onto Collins Ave. and interior streets, it is a natural reaction for motorists to be focused on looking for that gap in traffic in order to pull out, instead of looking both ways for pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.
Although pedestrians may have the right of way, be sure that you are seen by the motorists before you step out in front of them.
And motorists, please remember to look both ways to check for pedestrians walking or riding a bicycle on the sidewalk from either direction.