TAMPA — A new streetlight has gone up near the scene of an accident that killed a young pregnant mother, speed tables are expected to be installed by Christmas, and plans for a sidewalk are moving forward, city officials said Thursday.
That's better, said City Council members, who had sharply criticized Mayor Bob Buckhorn's staff for not accomplishing more since the Nov. 16 accident on N 43rd Street near Hillsborough Avenue.
Council member Frank Reddick described the progress as "an early Christmas present."
"Thank you on behalf of that community," he said. "You have made tremendous progress, more than I anticipated."
"This is the highest priority for me and my staff," city Transportation Manager Jean Dorzback said. "It has been for a couple of weeks. We've got all hands working all angles of it."
Tampa Electric Co. put the new light on an existing pole just north of Hillsborough Avenue, she said, and is looking at supplying power to another utility pole near the Silver Oaks Apartments.
Police are making a point to watch for speeders on 43rd Street, where the speed limit is 25 mph. And the Hillsborough County School District has mowed a vacant lot that it owns at 43rd and Hillsborough to improve visibility for drivers.
The city also has made a proposal to put a sidewalk on private property on the west side of 43rd Street. The right of way there is only 25 feet wide, and the street itself is 22 feet wide, so officials are negotiating with the family that owns the land for an easement.
"They've expressed a willingness to cooperate and work with us," Dorzback said.
Meanwhile, the city has worked on engineering plans for the sidewalk, has a contractor standing by and expects that once the agreement is approved the work could be done in less than two weeks.
In contrast, officials last week estimated the sidewalk could take three to four months. That wasn't soon enough for council members or relatives of the woman who was killed.
Monica Alvarez, 27, died after being struck from behind by a car as she and her friend Shantia Little pushed their baby girls in strollers down a darkened 43rd Street.
Alvarez, who was six months pregnant, died. Her son, Angel, was delivered by emergency caesarean section but lived only an hour. Her 1-year-old daughter, Imani Golden, suffered serious head and lung injuries.
An investigation into the accident is continuing, and no charges have been filed.
Police have said the driver, Daryl Oliver, 25, had his headlights on, did not appear to be traveling at an excessive speed and immediately pulled over and called 911.