Neighbors concerned about pedestrian safety in Janesville following crash that killed 9-year-old

JANESVILLE, Wis. – A group of neighbors in Janesville is asking city leaders to make some structural changes to their streets following the death of a young boy on East Memorial Drive.

Last week, a 9-year-old boy was hit and killed less than half a mile away from his elementary school at the intersection of East Memorial Drive and Prairie Avenue. It’s a death people living in the area believe could have been prevented.

RELATED: 9-year-old killed in Janesville after being hit by vehicle

Brandi Martinez, who lives about a block from where the crash happened, said East Memorial Dr. Drive is full of traffic safety concerns which she shared with the city of Janesville more than a year ago following her own close call with a car that went off the road.

“My husband and I knew that someone was going to get hurt,” Martinez said. “This is one of those things where we really need to see some sort of response because putting it back in the community’s hands, there’s only so much we can do defensively.”

She, along with others living in the area, said it’s common to see drivers going well over the speed limit, ignoring stop signs or even losing control of their cars, leading to property damage.

Martinez shared images with News 3 Now of emails she sent to the Janesville City Council in May of last year expressing concerns over drivers speeding on Memorial.

“Someone is going to get hurt,” she wrote at the time.

She also asked city leaders to do something to make the area safer, suggesting speed bumps.

That same day, Martinez said a city council member told her the Janesville Police Department would be stepping up enforcement in and around her neighborhood.

Following last week’s incident involving the 9-year-old boy, she again reached out to the city council asking for more visible sidewalks and speed bumps, which a different council member said, in an email Martinez also shared with News 3 Now, could not be installed on the busy thoroughfare.

That councilmember said other steps, like re-lining crosswalks, could provide more visibility for drivers and pedestrians alike.

For its part, the city’s engineering department said it was only made aware of two citizen complaints about East Memorial Drive and just within the last two months.

After a review of the locations at the intersection of Harding Street and North Garfield Avenue, the department began the process of preparing work orders for pedestrian warning signs, advanced yield bars and additional school crossing warning signs between the two intersections.

However, Martinez wants to see bigger structural changes on East Memorial Drive, including beefing up enforcement.

City leaders told News 3 Now last year the Janesville Police Department collected data about speeding and people running stop signs on that street but it didn’t amount to many violations. For now, they aren’t targeting that stretch of road, something Martinez thinks is a mistake.

“It seemed that they were only coming during certain or select few hours and they were here usually for a limited time,” she said. “They didn’t actually get the eye the community sees.”

City leaders said the road is a candidate for a total safety conversion, which means there’s potential to reconfigure the lanes on that road pending a traffic study set for next year.

News 3 Now has reached out to the Janesville Police Department for data surrounding speeding and traffic accidents along East Memorial Drive, but that information was not made immediately available.

For the latest traffic conditions across the area, click here.