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Traffic signals installed at intersection where mother of 3 was killed

Highway and Road TransportationCrime, Law and JusticeCrimeHit and Run (vehicular)Public Transportation

For years, Kimberly Everette reported the cars speeding through her Hyde Park neighborhood to police, urging them to find a way to make the corner of 48th Street and 11th Avenue safer.

Officers would set up speed traps, issue tickets and leave after a week. For a while, it worked. Drivers would cruise through with caution, but the speeding always returned.

Then, last September, Tiffani Balmore, a mother of three, was fatally struck by a black SUV in a hit-and-run accident at the intersection. Everette, who witnessed the accident, said the car was speeding.

“I’ve been here nine years and I’ve seen so many accidents,” said Everette, 45.  “People just speed through here so fast.”

Between May 2005 and May 2012, there have been at least four accidents involving pedestrians in the area.

The problem, residents said, was that drivers coming off busy Crenshaw Boulevard whiz through 48th Street, a residential area that is steps from a church and Crenshaw High School. Pedestrian had to dodge four lanes of traffic without the help of a crosswalk.

"Sometimes it was hard getting across," said resident James Phillips, who uses a rolling walker.

City officials were monitoring the intersection and had a project design in place when Balmore was killed. But a lack of funding delayed the project, said Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who represents the area.

But on Thursday, dozens of community leaders, students from nearby Crenshaw High School and residents gathered at the corner to activate newly installed traffic signals.

In addition, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation reduced the number of lanes from two to one in each direction and added bicycle lanes that will connect to the future Crenshaw/LAX light rail line.

The $750,000 project was paid for using funds from highway safety program and Proposition C, according to the transportation department.

“This has been a long battle to get this done -- a very expensive battle,” said Parks, flanked by community members.

After a few remarks, the group moved to the utility box that controls the traffic light.  Balmore’s shy 4-year-old daughter, Cydney Jones, made her way to the open box. With Parks' help, the little girl pressed the button that turned on the electricity to the traffic signals. They all flashed red before synchronizing.

Myra Jones, 54, sees the stoplights as an "honor" to her daughter.

“Her life was not lost in vain,” she said.

Later, 71-year-old Phillips waited at the intersection for the signal to change. He looked both ways, then safely walked across the street.

[For the record, 9:25 a.m. March 14: An earlier version of this post identified the intersection as 11th Street and 48th Avenue; it is 11th Avenue and 48th Street.]

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