Mon09222014

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Council OKs crossing guard for high school

Photo Jana Seshadri/Town Crier Los Altos High School sudents cross the Almond Avenue crosswalk on their way to school last week.

In an attempt to improve traffic safety near Los Altos High School, the Los Altos City Council voted unanimously Sept. 13 to hire a crossing guard for the busiest adjacent crosswalk.

A school resource officer will direct traffic on Almond Avenue at Gordon Way beginning this week.

School representatives, parents and students emphasized the need for immediate action as they spoke of increased danger to students and other pedestrians due to unruly drivers.

Last month, a parent driving a Ford Expedition struck Annie Frates, a 17-year-old senior, as she crossed Almond in the crosswalk.

“I rolled over the hood of the SUV and was thrown 30 feet away on the ground,” Frates said. “Everyone thought I was dead.”

She was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Frates said she’s happy to be alive.

“It’s a very serious situation,” Principal Wynne Satterwhite said. “This is a community issue. We want to be a part of the solution.”

“It’s imperative that something is done,” said Cristy Dawson, assistant principal. “Lots of (students) cross to school and it’s quite dangerous.”

Before she begins her administrative duties each morning, Dawson dons another hat – that of a crossing guard – as she directs traffic on Almond to ensure students cross safely. Parents drive quite erratically, sometimes in the bicycle lane, and weave dangerously between pedestrians and bicyclists, she said.

“The best option is a crossing guard,” said Charles Cantrell, Associated Student Body president.

Suggestions recommended by city officials include in-pavement flashing crosswalk lights and raised crosswalks at the Almond Avenue, Jardin Drive and Gordon and Casita ways intersections, according to Jim Gustafson, engineering services manager for Los Altos. The estimated cost is $31,000 to implement the city’s recommendations at the two intersections, said Gustafson, adding that a crossing guard would run approximately $7,800 per year.

Councilmembers suggested that city staff research the effectiveness of raised crosswalks with or without lighting as long-term traffic-calming solutions.

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