Residents plead case for new crosswalk
With construction of Windsor Point Park underway, neighbors say a new crosswalk leading to it only makes sense. The Department of Transportation, however, says no.
Windsor Point Park sits on the corner of Francisco and Schooner Drives, directly across from Lake Forest Elementary and Marina Village Middle School. Currently two crosswalks with stop signs form an L-shaped path from Lake Forest to the park and, during the school year, to waiting parents who park along Schooner Drive.
The longer crosswalk “leads to nowhere,” said neighbor and mother of two Heidi Hannaman. “It makes no sense kids have to cross two streets to reach a park that could be a straight shot.”
Hannaman is even more mindful of pedestrian safety than the typical parent. Having grown up in El Dorado Hills, her younger cousin was struck and killed while crossing El Dorado Hills Boulevard as a Jackson Elementary student in the late 1980s. Along with a new, clearly marked intersection on the south side, preferably with an electric signal, Hannaman would like to keep the L-shaped intersection but make it more visible with a fresh coat of paint. “The more crosswalks the better,” she said.
Hannaman and other neighbors enlisted the help of District 1 Supervisor Ron Mikulako to appeal to DOT. After surveying the situation on June 14, DOT Traffic Superintendent Darryl Brown said they wouldn’t put up a new crosswalk because there isn’t sufficient need. “There have been no pedestrian accidents on the intersection of Francisco and Schooner drives,” he said.
Lake Forest Owner Association President Ray Myers, a longtime Waterford resident, has been frustrated by the school traffic along that section of the Francisco Drive corridor for years and believes the new park will only exacerbate the problem. While Lake Forest has a crossing guard 30 minutes before and after school each day, Marina Village does not, which means students cross the street at leisure and back up traffic, he and others said.
“Due to random middle school student crossing, traffic is blocked for approximately 45 minutes every school day,” said Myers. “This doesn’t allow first responders ingress or egress to approximately 1000 homes north of the intersection during that time.”
Myers wants to abandon the old L-shaped intersection on the north side altogether and put up one signalized crosswalk on the south side instead. Not only would it make a straight path to the park and waiting vehicles on Schooner Drive, the light would monitor the flow of both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The new crosswalk would also have an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp, which the current one does not.
Myers also proposed a fence to line the street by the schools to guide students to the new crosswalk and said the LFOA might be willing to absorb some of the cost. He also said electricity is available at the corner of the proposed site for electric signals.
At first Brown said DOT would repaint the existing L-shaped intersection but stopped there. “Moving the crosswalk and adding curb ramps would place the project onto the Transportation Capitol Improvement Project (CIP) List because it is not an easy curb ramp to build,” he wrote by e-mail. “Funding for these projects is just not available currently. When the Transportation Division creates its ADA Transition Plan, we will be more set up to get grant funding to pay for these curb ramp improvements. Since there are no pedestrian accidents in the area and the intersection is controlled by an all-way stop sign, Pedestrian Activated Signals (or Flashing Beacons) are not warranted either.”
Hannaman said she doesn’t want a fence, but only a new crosswalk. “We don’t live in an urban area,” she said. “And I don’t care about speeding up traffic. I want to slow it down. I’d rather leave the crosswalk the way it is than build a fence along that stretch.”
Brown then offered a concession, saying DOT would repaint the existing crosswalks as well as repaint the red curbs, place new reflective stop signs and put up a “No U-turn” sign.
Lake Forest crossing guard and parent Gina Johnston is cautious about moving the existing crosswalk to the south side of the intersection even if it would make a straight path to Windsor Point Park. “Unless they put up a flashing light that says ‘stop ahead,’ I worry people will turn the blind curve and come up to it too fast,” she said. Johnston explained she often sees cars speeding up to the intersection, but at least on the north side there’s a clear, straight line of vision.
Until school resumes and the park completed later this fall, Hannaman said Supervisor Mikulako’s office would take a wait-and-see approach. “It’s another sad example of red tape and government not being able to get a simple job done. It seems crazy we can’t get a simple crosswalk that leads straight to a park,” Hannaman said.