‘Please fix the road:’ Retired fire captain calls for safety improvements in Temple Terrace

‘Please fix the road:’ Retired fire captain calls for safety improvements in Temple Terrace

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A retired fire captain is calling for safety improvements in Temple Terrace.

For the past year, he’s been fighting the city for a proper crosswalk and lighted signs to protect children in his community. With no results, he turned to 8 On Your Side for help.

Speeding along Ridgedale Road is Fred Morello’s biggest concern. Morello’s not only an accomplished retired fire captain, he’s also a grandfather. He wants to see safety changes not only for his family but for the community.

Along Ridgedale Road there are two schools, a ball field, a playground and a church. It’s a hub for kids and their families.

“All I really wanted was a proper crosswalk, which they don’t have now,” said Morello. “A raised crosswalk with a button that you could push lights so kids can get back-and-forth safely.”

Morello has been living in this area for more than three decades. He’s seen how dangerous this road can be.

“A car got totaled, I believe it was last year,” he said. “There’s been multiple dogs hit along this road, so it’s just a matter of time.”

Morello took his concerns to the police chief, mayor, and councilmembers. Only one councilmember responded.

“The response was again, nobody uses the crosswalk, and it would slow down emergency vehicles,” said Morello.

But as a first responder with 33 years of experience, Morello says that’s not true.

“They make raised crosswalks specifically for emergency vehicles to drive through without slowing down,” he said. “I tried to get the city to do a traffic study for months and I contacted News Channel 8. Lo and behold, the next day they started the traffic study,” said Morello.

Temple Terrace police completed a speed data analysis.

“68% of the vehicles that travel this road are speeding,” said Morello.

Police clocked a driver speeding 74 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone on Ridgedale. Over a five month period, police stopped 123 drivers and cited 49 of them.

“The worst thing is seeing a child get hurt, and this to me is an easy fix,” he said.

8 On Your Side reached out to city leaders. Vice Mayor Meredith Abel said she’s been in contact with Morello.

“Our council highly prioritizes increasing the safety of the streets in Temple Terrace, and it is a topic council frequently addresses. As the council liaison for the Temple Terrace Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, this issue is very important to me personally as well. School zones, especially the one on Ridgedale which also has a church, playground, and ball fields, attract a lot of people and therefore need special consideration,” Abel wrote in an email.

She said the city has been monitoring the speeding issues on Ridgedale and is in the process of making plans for safety improvements.

She said council has discussed installing speed cameras in school zones, but is waiting to see the outcome of a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office program first.

Abel said new school zone signs have been ordered and engineers are drafting a school zone signing plan based on new requirements.

“The city is also currently reaching out to vendors for quotes on solar school flashing beacons. We’re adjusting this project to also include school pavement markings as suggested by our third-party reviewer. In addition, we’re suggesting to remove and replace the crosswalk markings at the intersection of Ridgedale Road and Woodmont Avenue. Engineering is working on a request for a Ridgedale Road Complete Street design funds for a future budget year,” said Abel.

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