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New safety enhancements scheduled for school routes

Molly Shore

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

council members.

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