Child's death draws attention to pedestrians along US 69 South in Port Arthur

With the growth of new businesses and residential areas in Port Arthur, there is also a growing concern of pedestrians crossing a very busy section of US 69 South near Central Mall.

PORT ARTHUR -  

With the growth of new businesses and residential areas in Port Arthur, there is also a growing concern of pedestrians crossing a very busy section of US 69 South near Central Mall.
 
One missed step and things can turn deadly.
 
"It's very scary because you don't know who's going to hit you or what's going to happen," says Caroline Hagan, of Port Arthur.
 
Hagan is one of the many pedestrians who make their way on foot around the city of Port Arthur.
 
"Sometimes it's very dangerous," Hagan says.
 
"I don't walk it all the time, but it's very dangerous," She explains.
 
 But she's not the only one.
 
In an hour span of standing at the busy intersection, not one or two, we saw more than 25 different pedestrians running back and forth across the busy intersection.
 
"We did research and the city has taken big interest lately," says Chief Patrick Melvin of the Port Arthur Police Department.
 
"From this time last year, we've had over 100 collisions and 2 fatalities between 39th street and highway 365." Chief Melvin explains.

"We're concerned, and would like to go the entire summer without an accident especially an auto-pedestrian accident," He says.
 
It's the same road that took the life of 10-year-old Tyvone Washington, he's the fourth grader was killed in 2014.
 
He was trying to cross U.S. 69 South across Central Mall with a group of friends when an SUV hit him killing him on impact.
 
"That was one of the first things that I was told when I first arrived here, it was sad and people still remember as if it was yesterday," Chief Melvin says.

"We recommend not to cross mid-block, we just don't want that kind of incident from happening again," he says.
 
"If they would build us a sidewalk or whatever, we wouldn't have to fight to deal with the traffic," says Hagan.
 
According to Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), fewer than a dozen pedestrian crossings happen over U.S. 69 South each day, making it impossible to predict the area of placement for maximum use for a foot bridge.
 
"That's what we need, something safe for us," Hagan says.
 
We work with the state, that's state right away so the city has no control on the highway, but we do work with the state on regular bases," says Armando Gutierrez, Director of Public Works at the city of Port Arthur,
 
"We just submitted a wish list to TxDOT's set aside funding which includes 4.1 million dollars in sidewalks, but other cities around the state are doing the same thing and the state has to consider the budget under that program," Gutierrez says.
 
"Safety is TxDOT's number one priority, what we have done in that area is add signs urging people to use the crosswalk," says Sarah Dupre, Public Information Officer for TxDOT Beaumont.
 
"It's a safe place to cross, you will not have to jump over the concrete barrier, it's a safer place to walk over," Dupre says,
 
But even with the signs, the mad dash to get across the highway continues. 
 
"We don't encourage anyone to cross mid-block or on the freeway, we encourage for people to cross the intersection when safety is available," says Chief Melvin.
 
"Drive the speed limit because they have a lot of people that walk this area," Hagan says.
 
"We don't know if you're going to make it home safe," She explains.
 
The Port Arthur Police Department urges everyone to keep an eye on the area.
 
They say that if you see someone disoriented or children unattended to please call 9-1-1.
 
That's a phone call that could have saved little Tyvone's life.

© 2017 KBMT-TV


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