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Mayor announces Safer Streets progress at site of pedestrian fatalities

Mayor Turner dedicated street safety work to the memory of Jesus "Jesse" Perez and Lesha Adams, who were were struck and killed as Adams helped Perez across a Heights area street. With him were Perez's brother Dennis Perez, right, and Adams' widow, Stefanie Marsh left, her children and her mother

By: Paige Hubbard 

HOUSTON – Sparked by the deaths of two pedestrians crossing a street in the Heights area in March, Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced the completion of new street safety projects and plans for more as part of the city’s Safe Streets initiative.

With the pedestrians’ survivors looking on, the mayor reported the citywide upgrades and activated a newly installed traffic signal at North Shepherd Drive and West 10th Street, where the pair was killed. In her Good Samaritan style, Lesha White, 54, was driving with her daughters March 30 when she saw Jesus “Jesse” Perez struggling to cross the intersection in a wheelchair. She pulled over and was helping Perez when another vehicle struck the pair.

“Just because (Houston Public Works) upgraded this intersection does not mean we will forget Lesha Adams and Jesus Perez,” Mayor Turner said. “And just because we made this intersection safer for pedestrians and everyone else does not mean we need another horrific accident to take place before we improve other intersections.”

The city streamlined the way it addresses reports of dangerous intersection as of the mayor’s April 11 news conference at the site. As a result, Public Works made traffic light repairs, wheelchair ramp installations and other improvements at many of the 667 intersections reported by the public in the last two months.

As a symbol of the work underway, Mayor Turner today turned on the new pedestrian-activated traffic signal at the Shepherd intersection. The survivors and others then joined the mayor as he crossed the street.

Also since April 11, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities logged and relayed to Public Works 20 requests for pedestrian access reviews, four times the usual amount. And Metro removed a bus stop three blocks south of the intersection to make it safer for bus riders to cross the street at stops.

Mayor Turner announced today that the city is joining the national Vision Zero network designed to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. He emphasized the network’s principles, including that all roadway fatalities are preventable.

 

Police Chief Art Acevedo, Metro board chair Carrin Patman, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, Public Works Director Carol Haddock and Office of People with Disabilities Director Maria Towns joined Mayor Turner to urge drivers to be more aware of pedestrians and cyclists.

“As the city doubles down on making streets safer for everyone, we always need residents, especially drivers, to work with us,” the mayor said. “Please take care, look out for your fellow Houstonians who are on foot, and avoid distractions such as cell phone use.”

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