City studies identify the site of this morning’s fatal pedestrian crash at Lamar and Bellevue as one of the most dangerous crossings in Memphis. Though T-DOT and city spokespeople say they have taken a number of measures to make the intersection safer, residents call for more to be done.
Investigators say Gentry Wright tried to cross the intersection at Lamar and Bellevue this morning, but he never made it. According to Memphis Police, a tractor trailer hit him first and sent him flying into the air.
Wright then hit the windshield of a second vehicle, a Nissan Sentra. When Wright finally fell into the road, a third vehicle ran him over.
“A lot of times drivers don’t be paying attention when the cross sign it saying you can walk and they just be flying by,” said Rachel Hart who walks through the intersection to work.
Police are still investigating whether Wright was obeying the traffic signals. Questions also remain about why two of the three vehicles, including the tractor-trailer, never stopped.
But the deadly accident is the latest at an intersection City studies show as a top danger zone for pedestrians in Memphis.
The 2015 Memphis Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan says the intersection is “skewed,” has at least six travel and turn lanes with no median or barrier for pedestrians, and is complicated by wide driveway access by businesses near the intersection.
Because Lamar is a state road, it is maintained by T-DOT. The Department says safety is a top priority but went on to clarify that none of the roughly $180 million in federal grant money it plans to spend on Lamar improvements will address the dangerous intersection.
City engineers say they are working to together with T-DOT and have installed countdown pedestrian signals, high visibility crosswalks, and curb ramps for people with disabilities.
“It’s gotten a little safer. We have children around here kids go to school, and it needs to be a little more safe,” said Beverly Jones who lives near the intersection.
The City Safety Action Plan makes additional recommendations, including lowering the speed limit, creating medians or barriers as a refuge for pedestrians, and educating pedestrians.
The Local I-Team is awaiting a response from the City to its latest request about whether and when these additional plan recommendations may be implemented.