On November 7, 2012, a beloved member of the Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, Fla.) community, Robert "Bob" Earl Shepherd, 85, died after exiting campus while turning left, heading westbound on the Pinellas Bayway leading to the Gulf beaches. Bob, who actively pursued public officials and others to advocate for a traffic signal at the entrance to campus, unknowingly foretold his death in 2001 when he said, "It's a tragedy waiting to happen."
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, the traffic signal at Eckerd's front gate was removed in 1992 after "state transportation officials determined the area's traffic volume was too low to justify it." In 2001, Bob and his fellow Dolphin Cay neighbors heard the same thing after hosting an open forum, lobbying Florida Department of Transportation officials and providing them with a petition with 600 signatures.
In 2002, 2006 and again in 2009, Eckerd College petitioned transportation officials for a stoplight and was told that the area didn't qualify. In 2009, the College hired its own engineers who then determined that the entrance met the criteria. Still, we were denied. That same year, the City of St. Petersburg extended its City Trails bike path across Eckerd's front entrance.
Bob's death was preventable. An active roadway, a busy college entrance and a pedestrian/bike trail are a dangerous combination. We urge you to approve the installation of a traffic signal at the front entrance of Eckerd College to allow for safer turns on and off the Pinellas Bayway and to avoid future tragedies.