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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of Florida International University students cross busy 8th Street on foot on a daily basis.
“It’s a busy street, cars don’t respect the lines, so it’s important to wait,” said Nicole Pereira, one of the thousands of new FIU students attending the Fall semester.
Alexis Dale, who had reportedly begun to study Information technology in June, was struck and killed Sunday while crossing SW 8th Street and 109th Avenue.
“It is a sad way to start the new Fall semester particularly with freshmen so excited to come to college” said Larry Lunsford, vice president of student affairs of FIU.
According to FIU, Dale lived on campus during the summer but decided to move off campus to 109 Tower across 8th Street in Sweetwater for the Fall semester.
Students who live in the building, and in the area, say they are always concerned when crossing 8th Street and 109th Avenue.
“It’s very sad, I think about it all the time, I use the crosswalk all the time,” said student Paula Montes.
For FIU and the City of Sweetwater, safety is always a priority. In 2012, they were awarded a $11.4 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant, also known as the TIGER grant, to fund the University City Prosperity Project.
One of projects included in the grant was construction of a state of the art pedestrian bridge over 8th Street at 109th Avenue to offer a safer route for students and locals. In 2016, it broke ground.
“It is a miracle, really, in process a combination between Sweetwater, FIU, Florida Department of Transportation, South Florida Water Management to get this project off the ground” said Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez.
Also years in the making is the new pedestrian bridge over U.S. 1 linking the University of Miami to the east side of the highway. Since 1989, three students died and five were seriously injured trying to cross South Dixie Highway.
FIU students say the construction of this new bridge brings much relief. “We really need that, there is a big influx of people from here to there every day, we need to be safe” said Pereira.
The goal is to have the bridge completed by December of 2018.