Construction on Denton Tap impacting student safety

Coppell High School students walk across Denton Tap Road on Friday, September 9th. Photo by Sofía Guerrero

Coppell High School students walk across Denton Tap Road on Friday, September 9th.
Photo by Sofía Guerrero

Today, as commuters make their way down Denton Tap Road, it’s difficult not to notice all of the changes taking place around Coppell High School. One in particular stands out from the rest: the median’s missing fence.

 

Prior to construction, Denton Tap Road was equipped with a five-foot tall fence stretching down the median from Town Center Drive to Wendy’s. This barrier had been in place for nearly 10 years, and for good reason.

 

In October 2006, CHS freshman Veronica Sheer neglected to use a crosswalk as she walked home, surprising a student driver with her presence on the busy road. She was hit and suffered critical head injuries. Tragically, she died on Oct. 20, 2006 at Parkland Hospital. Sheer was only 14. In her passing, she left behind a family, including a brother and sister, her teammates on the cross country team, and a full life ahead of her.

 

The accident on Oct. 4 didn’t just end Sheer’s life but also completely changed the life of the student that hit her. A first responder on the scene of Sheer’’s death remembers comforting the student who hit her.

 

The responder, who wished to remain anonymous, recalls the student sobbing “I was just going, and she jumped out in front of me. And I killed her.”

 

In the months that followed Sheer’s death, citizens of Coppell urged the city to take more safety precautions around the school during dismissal and arrival times, ultimately leading to the fence’s construction. The fence stood as a barrier, forcing students to use the crosswalk for their own safety. That is, of course, until it was taken down for the construction that currently dominates the median of the busy roadway.

 

According to Coppell traffic engineer George Marshall, a project manager for the streetscape, the fence will be rebuilt by October, and will stretch even further than it had previously. The project as a whole, however, will be completed later this year.

 

The project plan outlines the installation of new, energy efficient median lighting and drought tolerant native plants. Irrigation systems are already in place. The $4 million project estimated completion date was May 20, 2016, however construction is expected to continue throughout the fall.

 

Current CHS students were too young to know of Sheer’s death when it happened and, as a result, are unaware of the danger Denton Tap Road can pose. On a recent afternoon, two students chose to run across Denton Tap Road near the intersection by Sonic. The students, who wished to remain anonymous, were in complete shock when told of Sheer’s accident.

 

One said it was “the first time [they’d] ever heard of it.”

 

Even those who don’t regularly walk towards Denton Tap Road to get to or from school can recall times they’ve seen students neglecting the crosswalk. CHS junior Belle Carnes said on the rare occasions she is in the area, she has seen “two or three” students risk their lives darting through traffic.

 

Until the fence is back in place, school and city officials advise student to cross only where the law permits.

 

“Pedestrians and drivers alike should remain cautious and aware,” Marshall said.
The fence will be back in place within the next month, but until then it is up to citizens to abide by traffic laws. The time it takes to wait for the pedestrian signal and use the crosswalk is insignificant in comparison to the alternative risk.

 

Follow Amelia @ameliavanyo

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