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A proposal to improve pedestrian safety along a hazardous stretch of Bee Ridge Road is receiving positive feedback from neigh- bors, but some local business owners say the pedestrian refuge islands could block access to their properties. The project was hatched by the Florida Department of Transportation, which is plan- ning to install 12 pedestrian refuge islands in a 3.6-mile stretch of Bee Ridge between U.S. 41 and Dunn Road, just east of McIntosh Road. Between 2008 and 2012, that section of road saw 61 accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists, two of which led to fatalities. Work is set to begin in the summer of 2015 and will cost $708,000, according to Department of Transportation projections. The department held a public hearing on the matter last week and has been collecting com- ments from residents and business owners. Those comments, provided to The Sarasota News Leader, show the plan has generated a wide range of reactions. One resident called it a "good project" justified by the "crash data," while another called it "long overdue." A third resident said "anything" the department does would represent an improvement — even new traffic lights that might slow down traffic. Few have objected to the concept behind the pedestrian refuge islands, but some business An engineer's drawing shows the design of a pedestrian refuge island for Bee Ridge Road. Image courtesy Florida Department of Transportation CROSSING OVER PLAN TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN SAFETY ALONG BEE RIDGE FINDS SUPPORT AND CRITICISM FROM RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES ALIKE By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor

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