Thousands sign petition for pedestrian bridge over West Tennessee Street

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
February 4, 2020

Natalie Nickchen was a 19 year-old psychology major from Orlando. She died after a car hit her Thursday morning while she was using the crosswalk on West Tennessee Street.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Almost a week after the death of 19-year-old FSU student Natalie Nickchen, a petition created by a fellow peer now has more than 10,000 votes.

The petition, created by Tallahassee native and FSU student Noelle Enright calls for creation of a pedestrian bridge over the intersection of West Tennessee Street near Alumni Hall.

Enright says that there is a reason she is calling for a complete structural renovation. She shares that she has observed other universities, even elementary schools in the Capital City, and listened to personal anecdotes of individuals who were hit by vehicles when they had the right of way.

While Enright did consider asking for the implementation of a crossing guard or flashing lights, she believes the safest thing would be a complete renovation, "I mean honestly I think any solution is better than what we have now but it is just really hard to put your life in the hands of somebody else whether it be a crosswalk or a police officer or someone driving up the road."

Which brings us to the petition. As of Tuesday night, there was more than 10,500 signatures. But Noelle says that they do not need to meet the goal because there is already a plan in place. The FSU Senate will be proposing a resolution to a committee to have a pedestrian bridge over West Tennessee Street on Tuesday.

The group will be specifically targeting Mayor John Dailey and Florida State University President John Thrasher. If it passes, there will be a hearing on Wednesday, and if it passes again, it will go to the Florida Department of Transportation's Secretary and Mayor John Dailey.

Noelle hopes they will see why it is needed, "Because even when Natalie took all the right precautions she waited till she had the right of way but it was something she could not even control."

A local bridge expert spoke with WCTV and says that if the petition makes it's way all the way to the Florida Department of Transportation, they will review pedestrian foot traffic, volume of cars, and how congested the crosswalk is, before making a decision.

According to PEDBIKEINFO, an overpass or underpass crosswalk can cost anywhere from $1 million to about $10 million. We reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation about this petition and did not receive word back.

At the moment, the Nickchen family is crowd surfing and hoping to get a general contractor. Noelle says if the resolution does not pass, her other alternatives include finding something less expensive, changing the lights so they are timed to go at the same time, or ask to have more FSU PD stationed on West Tennessee Street for speed checking.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
February 3, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — In wake of a Florida State University student's death after a car hit her at a West Tennessee Street crosswalk, more than 7,500 people have signed a petition to build a pedestrian bridge over the street.

Natalie Nickchen was a 19 year-old psychology major from Orlando. She died after a car hit her Thursday morning while she was using the crosswalk on West Tennessee Street.

According to the police report, Nickchen had the right of way. The report also said the driver of the vehicle ran the red light at the crosswalk. As of Monday morning, the driver of the vehicle has not been charged.

State Attorney Jack Campbell told WCTV on Friday that the decision to charge the driver will be made once the Tallahassee Police Department sends its final crash report.

Several FSU students told WCTV that the crosswalk is unsafe.

The Change.org petition presents two options: Build a pedestrian bridge over West Tennessee Street or a tunnel under it.

Noelle Enright started the petition and said she's received widespread support.

"Natalie's family reached out to me and said they're really glad that I'm doing this, and they wanted to do something similar but they're just dealing with the shock. So there's been a lot of support from the family, students, parents, just all over the place," said Enright.

Enright says the Nickchen family's blessing means a lot to her.

"It's the reason I'm doing it. Just to help them. Because I know they're dealing with so much right now, they can't deal with this right now," said Enright.

As of Monday afternoon, the petition has more than 8,000 signatures, from current students, parents, and alumni.

"You can clearly see the conditions aren't safe to cross the road, so I think it would be safest to give an alternate road so people wouldn't be in the road," said Enright. "You can't get hit if you're not in the road. So I think it's
definitely a failsafe."

The petition Noelle Enright started highlighted the Florida Department of Transportation, FSU and U.S. Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio as decision makers.

Read the full copy of the petition below:

Tennessee street is an extremely dangerous road to cross, and this has unfortunately been brought to light by a fellow classmate being struck and killed. The safest solution to the dangerous conditions when crossing this busy street is a pedestrian bridge or an additional tunnel at the intersection of Tennessee and Stadium, or elsewhere along the west side of Tennessee street. The one tunnel is not enough. Many universities in our state have pedestrian bridges, and it’s shocking there isn’t one over this dangerous road. There needs to be a safe option for pedestrians.

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