In the aftermath of yet another person being struck and killed on the Septima P. Clark Parkway last week, state and local officials visited the crash site Monday and heard suggestions of how to make the deadly Coming Street intersection safer for pedestrians.
Benjamin Fricke, 31, of Charleston, was hit shortly before 6 a.m., Thursday near the busy intersection. He was outside the crosswalk and had disobeyed a traffic signal when a southbound vehicle struck him, Charleston police said.
His was the fourth pedestrian fatality there since 2012.
This portion of the highway, also known as the Crosstown, has attracted scrutiny in recent years. Critics have spoken out against the layout of the Crosstown-Coming Street intersection, calling it poorly designed. Pedestrians, they say, often find themselves in harm's way when they attempt to cross the Crosstown at its widest point.
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, invited S.C. Department of Transportation engineers to visit the area and repeated his call for the construction of a pedestrian bridge, one that would stand about two blocks east of an existing pedestrian bridge.
After Lindsey Ranz, 21, was killed at the same intersection in January 2014 while she was jogging, Gilliard helped get a DOT-commissioned study that examined the feasibility of a second bridge, which the lawmaker estimated would cost about $1.5 million.
The study ultimately opposed the idea and instead suggested improvements for the existing pedestrian bridge and improving caution signs. Gilliard said he hopes the state reconsiders.
“We cannot settle for anything less, other than a bridge,” he said Monday during the site visit. “That’s the bottom line. That’s the only solution to one of the most dangerous areas here in Charleston County. We’re losing lives. And just like we predicted years ago ... we’re here again.”
On Thursday, the same day of the most recent Crosstown pedestrian fatality, Gilliard wrote DOT officials urging them to use emergency funding to build a new pedestrian bridge over the Crosstown near Coming Street.
On Wednesday, Gilliard said he and others in Charleston’s delegation will urge fellow lawmakers to back a resolution urging the DOT and Charleston County to use emergency funds to design and build such a bridge.
Ian Mills, who sits on the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, also visited the crash site Monday. He said he spent at least an hour Sunday scouting traffic patterns and observing pedestrian habits there.
Mills, who is also vice president of the Westside Neighborhood Association, said pedestrians would benefit from delaying the green light on the southern end of the intersection so that the light facing the northern end activates about 20 seconds sooner. Currently, pedestrians are expected to cross the intersection in two parts, waiting at the median for the walk signal to activate again. The green lights activate simultaneously.
Despite police on the scene who were continuing to survey the crash site Monday morning, several pedestrians disregarded traffic signals and scrambled to clear the entirety of the crosswalk.
"I'm not asking to add any more time to the crosswalks because the state would then have to do studies about how to change the timing on the whole Crosstown." Mills said. "And that would take a while."