Safety measures on the way

GLENDALE — Officials plan to add a 50-foot-long median, parking meters and additional speed humps to address traffic safety concerns in the area around Toll Middle School.

The changes, which have been approved by the City Council, would come on top of new stop signs and flashing red lights that were added last week to the crosswalk in front of Toll, where 11-year-old Meri Nalbandyan was struck and killed by a distracted driver Oct. 29, said Jano Baghdanian, the city’s traffic and transportation administrator.

“These are all the short-term improvements, and we are hoping to get all these done within the next three months,” Baghdanian said, adding that it would take some time for the city to put together the designs for a proposed 3-foot railing that would stand on the median along Glenwood Road.

Baghdanian presented the city’s latest plan at Tuesday’s joint meeting of the council and the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, where officials also discussed the future of school and city joint-use projects, including replacing two tennis courts at the Adult Recreation Center, as well as a possible new soccer field at Columbus Elementary School.

The traffic safety proposals will affect about 4,000 students who attend classes at Toll, Hoover High School and Keppel Elementary School, which are all along the same two-block stretch of Glenwood.

The median, which would be 4 feet wide, would help reduce the distance that students spend crossing the street and would help prevent jaywalking, Baghdanian said.

“We’re trying to force everybody to go to the crosswalks that are at the intersections,” said Baghdanian, adding that the district was hoping to add five permanent crossing guards to the three-school area, which includes one that has been working at the crosswalk in front of Toll since the accident.

There was no crossing guard there Oct. 29, although the city had allocated nine crossing guards to other points in the area.

All of the changes will add to safety measures made after the death of a Hoover student in 2000, who was stabbed in a gang-related incident that involved cruising. The city then added sidewalk bump-outs, a mid-block crosswalk with flashing lights, one-way streets and limited right, left and U-turn access to certain areas, Baghdanian said.

The new changes would help to further transform the area so that drivers become more aware of the environment, Baghdanian said.

“As you’re approaching from the east or from the west, we can essentially make Glenwood like a campus,” he said.

All in all, the changes would cost an estimated $230,000 for structural changes and $50,000 for new crossing guards, according to officials’ reports.

“Folks, there is cost,” said Councilman Bob Yousefian, addressing an earlier concern from the audience about added expenses during the current financial crisis.

“I ask you this question: What’s the cost of a child that is no longer among us?” Yousefian said. “In a way, I think government has to take steps to make sure that these types of catastrophes don’t happen.”

Officials considered parent and resident comments from recent public forums when they developed the new recommendations, including three speed humps to be added to Virginia Avenue near the schools, along with a painted white line to separate lanes.

The proposal also calls for the addition of all-way stop signs at the intersection of Virginia and South Street, and a total of 15 one-hour parking meters at the current one-hour parking zone on Glenwood, Baghdanian said.

 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at

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