A sight-impaired pedestrian says the crossing signals that would help her safely cross a busy Pasco County road were installed two years ago, and yet they have not been activated.
Gail Emrich walks from her home in New Port Richey to the nearby bus stops along U.S. 19 near Moog Road.
Emrich is a little different from your average pedestrian. She can only see about three to four feet in front of each step. Due to a medical condition, her eyesight failed significantly about seven years ago.
Now, Emrich's red and white cane helps navigate the sidewalks and crossings between her home and the bus and there is very little that slows her down.
Until she reaches the intersection of U.S. 19 and Moog Road.
"You say a prayer before you cross and one after you get there and if you have to stop in the middle, you say another one," she said.
Pasco County and the State of Florida have spent a considerable amount of time and money resurfacing and redesigning many parts of U.S. 19, including new pavement and markings, some new signals and crosswalks. The changes were all part of an effort to improve the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.
However, Emrich says that the crossing signals she would use to stay safe crossing Moog Road remain dark.
"They put all that money in, putting the new crosswalks, new sidewalks and everything else in, and then they didn't activate the lights," she said.
The intersection has three crosswalks: the main crossing over U.S. 19 on the south side of the intersection and two crossings on Moog Road, on the east and west sides of the intersection. The Moog Road signals are either covered in plastic or without power.
According to Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Kris Carson, the contractor for the work on U.S. 19 is scheduled to finish the entire project by late this summer. At that point, they will request an inspection of all work.
Once the inspection has been passed, the power will be turned on to the new crosswalk signals.
"We are waiting for the signal contractor to finalize all their intersections and then call for an inspection so they can be put into operation," Carson said.
Emrich's concern is not as much for herself as it is for the more-sighted drivers.
"If those lights were working...people don't realize but they keep an eye on them when they're coming around the corner, mostly stop," she said. "And if those lights were working it would be a lot easier on a lot of people."
Based on Bay News 9's inquiry the state is also going to explore adding audio signals for the sight impaired to the Moog Road intersection.