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Shepherd Avenue underpass taking shape

Construction on the Sugar Pine Trail underpass is taking shape on Shepherd Avenue in Northeast Fresno.
Construction on the Sugar Pine Trail underpass is taking shape on Shepherd Avenue in Northeast Fresno.

The underpass is at the site of a deadly accident last July, when 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado was struck and killed.

Maldonado was riding his bicycle with his family when he was hit in the crosswalk by former Central High basketball coach, Loren LeBeau.

LeBeau was arrested for DUI and later pleaded no contest to the hit and run charges and accepted a 12-year prison sentence.

Jeff Hammerschmidt, LeBeau's attorney, says he's glad the city is making changes to that area. "One of the worst things about the crosswalk was that it was on a diagonal, and it actually meant that the pedestrians were in the crosswalk for twice the distance that they would have been if it was designed that way crosswalks were normally designed," said Hammerschmidt.

Patrick Wiemiller, Fresno's public works director says the city always planned for an underpass, since that crosswalk went up more than 10-years ago and grant money is funding the project. "We applied for the funding 4 years ago and were approved at that point, and we've just waited to have our turn at the funding, to actually have the dollars arrive. That happened this past year and so we've scheduled it for construction during the time that school is out."

The underpass is scheduled to open on August 29th, the same day LeBeau gets formally sentenced.
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