Several Foothill Elementary School parents spoke during public comment at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday to ask for more protection for school children using the Cathedral Oaks crosswalk. The speakers included Betsy Meagher, whose son was hit by a car in the crosswalk at the school on December 14. To her comments, parent Dustin McKibben added that he has worked with the county for three years to get safety improvements for the area, but the accident made it clear that flashing lights were needed at the crosswalk. “Please find the money,” McKibben asked, saying a grant two years from now might be too late.
Meagher said her son had used the crosswalk many, many times before the day he was hit by the car; he broke his arm and suffered cuts, bruises, and trauma. She stated that even the crossing guards are “put in harm’s way” when they try to stop traffic to get kids across the road. Foothill’s PTA president, Bryant Henson, had emailed parents earlier to call on Supervisor Janet Wolf for a stoplight, but at the hearing, he asked the supervisors to install a push-button-activated, safety-lighted crosswalk. He listed the many sports teams that used school grounds after class got out and related the sad irony that a photo of Jake Boysel, who had been killed while riding his bike to school along Calle Real in 2006, was posted at the crosswalk to remind kids and parents to be careful.
The county has spent more than $100,000 improving the Foothill school zone area, Chris Sneddon with Public Works told The Independent. A bulb out and pedestrian refuge island were added at the crossing area, as well as striping changes that better mark bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways, ADA-compliant pedestrian ramps and sidewalks, and electric signs that show driver speed. With a $3 million cut in funding from the state and a $250 million backlog in county road needs, Sneddon said the county would want to partner with the school on the requested improvements. The school would fund hardware and maintenance; the county would install the lights and maintain them. Sneddon added that a grant could be another source of money, and he hoped the state would come through on its promise of a transportation funding reform bill.
McKibben, who lives on the road at the crosswalk and whose children use it daily, stated he’d seen and heard many incidents at the spot that have never been reported. Indeed, the public information officer for the California Highway Patrol, which investigates incidents on State Route 192, told reporters he had no information on the Meagher incident. McKibben also told supervisors that two trees that block drivers’ view of children in the crosswalk should come down.
Supervisor Janet Wolf met with the parents briefly during a break in the day, she told The Independent. With county staff, they discussed lights and the cost, and they also talked about trimming the trees, which county staff could do. “Hopefully we’ll get this issue resolved,” she said.