Any driver who passes under the Indiana Avenue overpass on I-75 these days proceeds warily. We remember what happened there a few days ago. And we wonder why it could not happen again.
Four teens (two of them 14, one 13, and one 15) threw a sandbag over the bridge. It struck a car windshield and killed a man — Marquise Bird, age 22.
That’s one young life ended and four ruined.
You can say the action and its results were flukes. But most overpasses have high and foreboding safety fences to prevent precisely this sort of thing. Indeed, there was one at Indiana Avenue before ODOT started the current reconstruction project.
So what has been done since this tragedy?
So far, not very much — some additional lighting and no new fencing.
But ODOT spokesman Erika Hawkins told The Blade that new, temporary fencing is now being constructed and will soon be installed. The option of hidden cameras is also being explored. Moreover, from now on, as a matter of policy, construction and repair sites will always have temporary fencing to keep vandals and miscreants out.
All of this needs to happen soon, and with public fanfare. It should have happened by now.
ODOT, as a public agency, and as an agency with a special obligation to public safety, has a duty to make this overpass and construction site, and every such site, as safe as it can be made, as soon as this can be done.
Construction work has taken down fencing at the Indiana Avenue overpass.
Meanwhile, ODOT should post guards to stand watch at the site by night. They should guard the site until the new fencing is up.
Otherwise, it could happen again.
A lot of things have to go wrong for this sort of tragedy to occur. Kids in their early teens should not be roaming the streets and looking for trouble at night. They should be home studying or watching TV or working on their computers, or, if out, participating in school sports, or, music or drama.
We cannot fix every family or secure every teen.
But we can have enough police officers to make cops very visible in the central city and to enforce the city’s curfew. A visible and predictable police presence is the best deterrent for serious crime as well as stupid hijinks that result in serious crime. Toledo’s new mayor is committed to recruiting, training, and deploying more police officers.
Meanwhile, ODOT has committed to doing its duty and protecting the public. Now it must follow through. Wary drivers and citizens will be watching.
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