The goal of a new traffic program launched this week is to make commutes to and from school safer for several Burbank Unified students.
On Monday, Burbank public works employees began work on the city’s Safe Routes to School project, which involves making safety improvements around three campuses in the Burbank Unified School District — George Washington and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools and John Muir Middle school.
Enhancements around those campuses include construction of curb extensions and ramps, all-way stop signs, high-visibility crosswalks and additional 15-mph signage.
Additionally, Sixth Street between Eton and Cambridge drives in front of Jefferson Elementary will be repaved, said Hannah Woo, a senior transportation planner with the Burbank Community Development Department.
City officials expect all improvements will be completed by the end of March.
In a separate effort, Woo said the city, per direction of the City Council, installed 15-mph signs, all-way stop signs and high-visibility crosswalks around a 500-foot radius at each school in the district, except for the three schools where work is being done, before the beginning of the current school year.
The next steps will be for the city to consider a citywide safety policy for all schools in the district.
Burbank is using the three schools as a pilot program to determine whether the safety improvements would be worth implementing in other schools throughout the district.
Depending on the effectiveness of the infrastructure improvements, Woo said the citywide policy could include, but is not limited to, curb extensions or additional signage.
The Safe Routes to School project is part of the city’s overall goal of creating a better and safer infrastructure for those who walk or bike around the city as well as for motorists.
The goal of this particular project at the three schools is to encourage students to walk or bike to school rather than being dropped off, Woo said.
However, Woo acknowledged that it is going to take more than several improvements to create a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“It’s most effective when the city and the school district work together and coordinate on infrastructure projects like this, traffic safety education or promoting walking and biking with parents and students,” Woo said. “It’s a multifaceted approach.”
The Safe Routes to School project cost the city about $490,000 and was funded through grants from Caltrans.
On the other hand, the enhancements made earlier at the other schools in the district, estimated to cost $720,000, were primarily funded by the city, with additional funding from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Woo said city staff will study the effectiveness of the improvements over a 12-month period once construction is completed.