Reporting Lauren Pastrana
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CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – A plan to build a pedestrian overpass above U.S. 1 in Coral Gables is once against stuck in neutral.
The project, in the works for at least eight years, is designed to make it safer for students at the University of Miami and others to cross the heavily traveled road.
“Sometimes it’s challenging, because there are a lot of risky drivers,” UM freshman Bryant Fischer said. “It’s such a busy street. It’s a highway with a stop light.”
Fischer was crossing U.S. 1 at Granada Blvd. Friday with his friend, freshman Paige McGlynn. The proposed overpass would be built a few blocks south, at Mariposa Court.
“It’s dangerous,” McGlynn said. “There are always cares going by really fast.”
Fischer and McGlynn cross the street safely, but other before them have not been so lucky.
“Over a period of time, 15 years, we’ve had three student deaths on U.S. 1 and over ten very serious injuries,” UM VP of Student Affairs Dr. Pat Whitely said.
Eric Adams died in 1990 after being struck by a car on U.S. 1.
Aaron Barber passed away after an accident in 1998.
In 2005, Ashley Kelly died as a result of injuries sustained after a crash at U.S. 1 and Mariposa Court. There’s a plaque on campus in her honor today.
Plans to build the overpass began in earnest after Kelly’s death.
Most recently, in April 2012, freshman Eliza Gresh was critically hurt in a hit and run crash in the same area.
“When you’ve had to sit with a parent that’s lost their son or daughter,” Dr. Whitely said, “you are so committed to seeing this project occur.”
Miami-Dade County has taken the lead on this project. The funding has been secured from sources outside of UM, namely the Florida Department of Transportation and the federal government, in the amount of roughly $6 million.
Part of the proposed overpass landing would be built on the property of the University Centre, a shopping plaza directly across from the campus.
Dr. Whitely told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana the owner is unwilling to sell.
We’ve reached out to the attorney for the owner, but did not hear back.
An attorney for the shopping center, Toby Brigham, told CBS4 News partners at the Miami Herald the project would hurt businesses in the plaza by blocking access and reducing visibility.
But for the students who spend their time and money in those restaurants and shops, that reason just doesn’t cut it.
“I don’t really know why they wouldn’t want to make the effort to make kids safer,” McGlynn said.
The state grant from FDOT, which partially funds the project, is set to expire at the end of June.