When the school year begins in September, new safety devices will
give additional protection to children who walk to and from school.
The City Council recently accepted $139,500 in grant money from
the California Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School
program. The money will be used for new sidewalk construction and
enhanced traffic-signal safety devices.
“The grant is to encourage parents to allow their kids to walk to
school by making the route safer,” traffic engineer Ken Johnson told
Portions of sidewalks on Winona Avenue near George Washington
Elementary School, Kenneth Road near Emerson Elementary School and
Ontario Street near Bret Harte Elementary School will be paved to
improve accessibility to intersections. The construction cost of the
sidewalk project is $80,000.
Additional safety devices will be installed on four traffic
signals to extend the walk time at a cost of $75,000.
The devices, either infrared, radar or a TV camera, “look” at the
crosswalk, and if they detect anyone in it, they extend the crossing
time, Johnson said.
The devices would only be operational when children are going to
or coming from school because they slow down vehicular traffic, he
The two projects total $155,000, and the city will contribute
“It’s going to make parents feel so much safer and the kids are
going to be safer,” Councilwoman Stacey Murphy said.
But even with the sidewalk and crosswalk enhancements, Washington
Elementary School mother Donna Mochrie plans to continue driving her
child to school.
Mochrie said her main concern is not one of better sidewalks or
longer crosswalk times; she worries about strangers approaching her
However, for parents who walk their children to school, Mochrie
said the upgrades will make it easier for them to get to the