The tragic hit-and-run that killed two children in Wilton Manors last month has renewed calls for greater traffic enforcement on State Road 845.
Long a bone of contention for residents on the city’s westside, State Road 845, (aka Powerline Road), was the scene of a Dec. 27 incident where a driver drove a vehicle onto the sidewalk, striking six children. The crash took place in the southbound lane of the 2400 block of NW 9th Avenue and claimed the lives of Andrea Fleming, 6 and Kylie Jones, 5.
“We as a neighborhood on the Westside have begged, pleaded and written to officials and participated in FDOT’s mollifying ‘surveys’ to lower speeds and enhance safety on PLR; to no tangible results for years,” said Wilton Manors resident Jake Valentine. “Powerline Road is a highway through the middle of our neighborhood surrounded by apartments and with children and with one of Wilton Manors largest parks just a few feet from where the recent national news-making tragedy occurred.”
Grace Ducanis, Florida Department of Transportation Communications officer, said the department is aware of concerns with traffic conditions on the two-mile section of Powerline Road in Wilton Manors. FDOT joined with residents and representatives from Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale to conduct a road safety audit in May of 2021. Input from the audit led to a development plan that included lowering the speed limit from 45 to 40 mph. A further reduction to 35 mph is being considered, Ducanis said.
“The audit participants requested the department consider further reduction to 35 mph and we are currently assessing what roadway and traffic control modifications would be necessary to make 35 mph a realistic speed limit,” Ducanis said.
Valentine said he was shocked to find Wilton Manors police had only issued one ticket on Powerline Road from October 2021 through the first week in January 2022. Overall during that time span, WPD issued 65 tickets citywide.
“The Powerline Road area houses some of the most underrepresented and under-served households in the city,” said Valentine. “Is this why there is such a disparity, or is it the typical forgetfulness of City Hall that there is a Westside or maybe a little of both? The numbers are pretty clear.”
The Gazette reached out to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for crash data from a seven-year time span. The request is being processed but analysis will take time to detect trends. Capt. Peter Bergstresser, FLHSMV Chief of Public Affairs, said the department no longer has the ability to research specific geographic locations. Overall county crash data from 2021 can be found on the FLHSMV’s new dashboard.
Meanwhile, police arrested Sean Charles Greer, 27, on Dec. 28. Investigators said Greer confessed he is the driver of the 2009 Honda Accord, which was traced to him using a bumper and partial VIN number left behind at the scene. Greer faces two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving death, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries, tampering with evidence, four counts of driving without a license causing death and/or serious bodily injuries and driving with a suspended license. He is also on probation for burglary of a dwelling in Broward County.