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Consultant to study roadway where fatal accidents occurred

By Staff | Oct 17, 2012

The city plans to study an L-shaped section of roadway where a motorist died last month after her car became submerged in the adjacent canal.

City Manager John Szerlag directed staff to hire a consultant to review the Beach Parkway and Surfside Boulevard intersection about two weeks ago.

“We want to look at improvements that would enhance the driver’s awareness to the conditions at the intersection,” said Stephanie Smith, the design and construction manager with the city’s Public Works Department.

“Make sure that the driver is aware of what’s going on,” she said.

Currently, southbound traffic on Surfside has a sign that warns of the approaching curve, or L-shape, at Beach Parkway. Drivers going west on Beach Parkway have a sign that alerts to the stop sign at Surfside, then the stop sign.

As of Wednesday, a timeline for the study was not set.

“We’re still in negotiations with the consultant,” Smith said.

Staff also had not determined what it would specifically look at.

“We’re still working out the details of that contact,” she said.

Alexie Rai Krill, 24, of Cape Coral, died Sept. 22 after she drove into the canal off of Beach Parkway and Surfside. She was traveling west on the parkway when she reportedly ran the stop sign at Surfside and entered the adjacent water.

Krill was apparently unable to exit the submerged vehicle.

The city’s Transportation Advisory Committee discussed the intersection at its meeting Wednesday. City Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, who is a committee member, had the issue placed on the agenda.

“The committee unanimously endorsed the city manager’s efforts that have been directed toward staff, which is to hire a professional traffic consultant to address the corner,” he said. “And the process is already under way.”

Chulakes-Leetz noted that one committee member was concerned about putting up a barrier against an engineer’s advice, but added that it was the opinion of the board to take action in favor of ensuring residents’ safety.

About 60 people turned out for the meeting. Krill’s mother, Kristie Hilbert, provided a petition with more than 2,700 signatures to be put on the record.

“Basically, the support was to create an environment that will keep cars on the roadway, so that in the event of a future accident, at least the accident scene can be found,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

“That was a far greater improvement than when I stood before the committee in 2006,” he added of the crowd.

In October 2005, Chulakes-Leetz’s future stepson was southbound on Surfside when he came upon Beach Parkway and drove into the canal. He died at 21. Reflective signs posted in the area were down due to Hurricane Wilma.

Chulakes-Leetz and the victim’s mother went before the committee the next year in an attempt to have something done at the intersection. Nothing ever was done.

“I was humbled to be in a position where I can do the job that I believe my council members had an opportunity to act on six years ago and chose not to,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

Lisa Harle is the woman who lost her son, Phillip Kinney, years ago at the same intersection. She was saddened when she heard of Krill’s death.

“After I had been to the committee back in 2006, said I would pay for it, they dismissed me,” Harle said. “I’m so sorry for the Krill family, to be going through what they’re going through when it didn’t have to be that way.”

She did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, but was glad to hear others did.

“I hope the advisory board does something this time. I hope they follow through and do what they should have done six years ago,” Harle said.

She suggested that the Krills sue the city if nothing is done.

“I just think it’s been a very dangerous area for many years,” Harle said. “I’m just very hopeful that something gets done this time.”

According to Chulakes-Leetz, the committee is hoping to have the study completed within 60 days or a report at the December or January meeting.

“They will try to include other L-shaped corners that are similar,” he said, adding that he does not believe there are many like it within the Cape.

“Most provide 120- to 140-foot standard lots between the roadway and the canals,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “In this particular location, there’s 10 feet and then you drop off to basically a depth of 25 feet in the canal.”

Krill’s family has temporarily set up the “Alexie Krill Memorial Fund” at Mullins Memorial Funeral Home, which handled the arrangements, for anyone who wants to donate to the cause of constructing a protective barrier.

Hilbert previously stated that a company has volunteered to put it up the barrier, but the family needed guidance on seeing the project through.

She said she wants a solid barrier constructed and would like road bumps installed along the sides of the road to alert drivers when they leave it.

Mullins Memorial Funeral Home is at 1056 N.E. Seventh Terrace.