MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - – If you’re lucky, you only hear the screeching tires and see the skidding cars sliding down the road. Those who aren’t so lucky, also feel it.
“[Hit] the roundabout, lost control, came straight through the fence and ended up hitting, there," Elizabeth Legrand said, pointing to one of the posts holding up the carport in front of her family’s home.
Legrand lives at the corner of Northwest 191st and 7th Avenue in Miami Gardens and showed the Leave it to Layron team video recorded by her surveillance camera, last fall. It’s after sunset. First, the headlights of an oncoming car can be heard, then the screeching tires as that car plows through the fence into Legrand’s yard.
That crash was the fifth time Legrand’s fence was hit by a driver who took the roundabout too fast.
The Legrands’ fence and carport -- much like their neighbors' fences, cars, mailboxes and walls— haven't fared too well over the past couple of years.
The Leave it to Layron team reviewed crash reports provided by the city of Miami Gardens. The records were from January 2017 through March 2018. Miami Gardens police responded to nearly 130 crashes along Northwest 7th Avenue, between 183rd and 199th streets. A quarter of those crashes happened at, or approaching, the roundabouts.
"All of us are at risk living on this road," Michelle Mesa said when the LITL team first spoke with her, more than a year ago.
At the time, Mesa showed us her own home security camera footage which captured a violent crash: a driver losing control, crossing the median in front of her home, and rolling down the street, eventually crashing into a parked minivan.
"I would like to see speed humps all down this road," said Michelle’s daughter, Amanda Mesa.
The city maintains the road and the landscaping along the corridor, but Miami-Dade County’s transportation department is responsible for traffic flow.
The city said county officials had approved the installation of solar pavement lights at the roundabouts, which the city said would help slow traffic down at night. We were told the city also asked to replace the yield signs at the roundabouts with stop signs, but the request was denied.
The county responded to our inquiry by installing rubber cables on Northwest 7th Avenue, part of a four-day traffic study.
“That corridor has a 30 mph speed limit,” said Darlene Fernandez, an assistant director of transportation and public works with Miami-Dade County who spoke with us about the study’s findings. “The average vehicle was going 40 mph.”
At the time, Fernandez said the road did not meet the criteria for speed bumps. She said the roundabouts were “more effective” at slowing down traffic.
But, a few weeks ago, things changed.
"We all have to do our part to try to make people safe," said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert.
He spoke with the LITL team during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the roundabout outside of Legrand’s house celebrating the installation of new speed bumps along the Northwest 7th Ave. corridor, approaching the roundabouts.
"Traffic control devices are interesting things," Gilbert said. "Generally, they're controlled by the count. We talked with them, we worked with them, and we just decided that we were going to go ahead and we were going to put these speed bumps down, anyway."
A spokesperson for the city provided a statement that reads:
"While the County did not change its guidelines, the City decided our Residents’ safety is a high priority and decided to install the speed bumps and solar pavement lights along the NW 7th Avenue Corridor."
Michelle Mesa was not convinced.
"I really don't think it's effective,” Mesa said. “It's a Band-Aid."
Mesa thinks the new speed bumps were installed too close to the roundabouts to slow drivers down along the stretches of road in-between.
"They should be staggered throughout the street because people are still driving very quickly," she said.
We asked the city about the placement of the new speed bumps and received this statement:
"The issue being mitigated was the speed at which drivers approached and entered the roundabout which in some cases resulted in crashes into the homes nearby. Placing the speed bumps close to the roundabout force drivers to slow down and approach with caution as they maneuver the roundabout."
"I am appreciative because I do see the difference," said Legrand, who also thanked Local 10. “Without you guys coming out here, I don't know if it would have been able to reach the people that needed to understand how big of an issue it was for us."
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