By all accounts, 85-year-old Robert Shepherd was a renaissance man who pursued life around the world with endless intellectual curiosity, only to fall victim to a bean-counting bureaucracy that refused to see the obvious need to install a stoplight. Shepherd was a vocal advocate in a futile effort to persuade the Florida Department of Transportation to add a stoplight at the entrance of Eckerd College on 54th Avenue S in St. Petersburg. Shepherd was killed Wednesday when his car was struck by a pickup truck as the retired U.S. diplomat exited the Eckerd campus. Shepherd had predicted the lack of a stoplight would eventually result in the kind of accident that ended his extraordinary life and career.
There was a traffic light at the Eckerd entrance until DOT removed it in 1992. But over the past 20 years, as the college and surrounding community grew, so too did public safety concerns that the busy intersection had become increasingly dangerous. DOT refused to install a light at the intersection, citing traffic studies that defied the reality of the intersection's risks. Numbers should not always overrule common sense.
The state should install a traffic light at the Eckerd entrance. Robert Shepherd should not have to be proven right — again.