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Highway 98 dangerous for pedestrians crossing to Harborwalk Village
Downtown Destin near the Harborwalk Village has become one of the most popular destinations in Okaloosa County. But with limited places for pedestrians to cross Highway 98, it's also become one of the most dangerous.
During the summer, Destin sees thousands of tourists cross Highway 98. Combine that with tens of thousands of cars every day, and there's an obvious recipe for trouble.
Jeremy Merrill said "Last summer, I witnessed a man get almost to the curb on the other side of the road, and he got hit. Like a rag doll, he flew up over the car. I was the first one to get across the street there, and he was just broken up."
Merrill works at McGuire's, and says changes are needed.
He told us "It's pretty disturbing, and without a doubt we need to do something to make it safer for people. And if there's any way that people could get across this road without physically having to cross it, it'd be better for everyone."
Cabout how to make that area safer have been going on for years, but at Monday's City Council meeting, they got more serious.
Destin City Councilman Cyron Marler said "One of the things that we have suggested in the council and that we're working on is having the boardwalk continue from Harborwalk village here, and go under the foot of the bridge, and come out on the opposite side off of Calhoun avenue."
Another traffic light and crosswalk have been approved, but the council is still debating where to place it.
Said Cyron Marler ,"As I suggested in the City Council meeting, one idea that I came up with was to lower the speed limit in this area here from 35 to 25 as they do in the city of Ft. Walton Beach, and that would also help part of the traffic problem."
THAT WOULD NEED STATE D.O.T. APPROVAL, BUT COULD BE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED IN THE FUTURE.
BUT, CYRON MARLER SAYS, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO EDUCATE PEDESTRIANS TO THE DANGER OF CROSSING AWAY FROM A CROSSWALK.
That would need Florida Department of Transportation approval, but could be seriously considered inthe future. But, Cyron Marler says, the most important thing is to educate pedestrians to the danger of crossing away from a crosswalk.
"That is part of the problem we have because while it's right across the street, you have to walk down about half a block to cross. But walking down that half a block could save your life."
We talked to one resident who says she crosses 98 every day, and fears for her life every single time. She said she hopes something is done sooner rather than later.