Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SunRail safety spotlight

Marcees Kilpatrick shouldn’t have been next to the SunRail tracks on Friday when he was hit and killed by the commuter train last week.

I shouldn’t have been playing at the water company’s abandoned pumping station when I was Marcees’ age.

The pumping station was cool. It had ladders, catwalks, rusty machinery and huge empty tanks. Me and Craig used to pretend the station was our secret headquarters for cops and robbers and spy adventures.

There were hundreds of ways we could have died in the pumping station. Craig and I were lucky and survived childhood. Marcees did not.

Boys will be boys and we sometimes behave recklessly. When you’re 13 you assume you’ll live forever. Now we know that’s not true. Kids need the protection and guidance of adults.

To their credit, SunRail has been running an aggressive safety campaign for years. We urge FDOT managers to redouble those efforts and seek out and fence off other cut-throughs to discourage kids from getting on the tracks.

Hopefully everyone is sending out prayers for Marcees’ family. While you’re at it, please send prayers for the engineer and conductor operating the SunRail train that killed Marcees. When I was a kid, a friend’s dad was the engineer of a train that killed a man. The tragedy haunted that father and he died prematurely.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Orlando continues to ignore crossing hazard at SunRail's Church Street station

Since the first week of SunRail operations 3 years ago, riders realized there was a big problem at the Church Street station. It is the worst-designed station in the SunRail system.

As the accompanying photo shows, people getting off the train in the morning wind up playing “dodge-a-car” when they get off at the station’s southbound station.  There’s no proper pedestrian crossing for southbound passengers who need to get across South Street to reach their workplaces.

We’ve written about this dangerous situation several times. Click here to see one of our past articles.

Everybody knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. However, city traffic engineers expect people to walk 2 blocks out of their way to the closest marked pedestrian crossing on South Street. The engineers give a bunch of complicated reasons why there is no safe, marked pedestrian crossing at the southbound platform on South Street where riders need it.

You would think Orlando would care more, since the southbound SunRail platform is in the heart of downtown and it's one of the busiest places every morning on SunRail.

But don’t worry say the engineers and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, all the problems will be remedied when Lincoln Properties builds a 25-story hotel/office high-rise in the vacant lot on Garland Avenue, next to Church Street Ballroom and the railroad tracks.

Both the northbound and southbound SunRail platforms are supposed to be incorporated in the Lincoln Properties office/hotel high-rise complex and eliminate the need to cross South Street.

The developers said two years that they were almost ready to start construction. You see any signs of construction on that site?

Talk is cheap. When will officials take this pedestrian crossing hazard seriously?