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Keys Sheriff Protests Year-Old Crosswalk After Crash

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay is protesting a year-old crosswalk on the Overseas Highway in Key Largo after a three-car pileup at the site last week.

Ramsay said the first he or any of his officers heard about the crosswalk was when it was installed a year ago by the state Department of Transportation.

"We were not advised, not informed, not asked. Our input wasn't taken by FDOT in any manner or form," Ramsay said. "We were surprised like everyone else when it showed up one day, just popped up. It was just a total surprise."

That stretch of U.S. 1 has a history of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. But Ramsay said those happened at night, and the pedestrians and cyclists were often intoxicated, wearing dark clothing or didn't have lights on their bikes.

When pedestrians want to cross at the new crosswalk, they press a button that activates a flashing yellow light. But Ramsay said many drivers may not understand the signal.

"People see red and they stop," he said. "They see amber flashing lights and they think, 'construction, warning, caution, something ahead.' But it does not mean stop."

Ramsay said deputies who work in the Keys have seen a lot of close calls at the crosswalk.

"We're seeing almost like leapfrog, people jumping out of the way of cars," he said. "They're trying to avoid getting hit from a car, or people in cars are trying to avoid hitting pedestrians."

FDOT officials said Tuesday they are reviewing the crosswalk site and looking at safety data. Any change would come after that review is complete.