Deadly crosswalk could be safer by year’s end

Thanks to the efforts of one local woman, a deadly intersection where elderly locals cross the street daily could have a new four-way traffic signal by the end of the year.

Locals who use the San Carlos Adult Community Center have been telling leaders about the dangerous crosswalk, where Chestnut Street crosses San Carlos Avenue, ever since patrons Margaret McEnnerny, 78, and Mariana Parise, 74, were struck by an SUV on Dec. 5, 2003. McEnnerny died of her injuries.

“Cars just don’t stop. Or one lane of traffic will stop, but the other won’t,” said Vera Bogdan, who crosses at Chestnut regularly and lives in the Coppertree apartments across from the center. “One of my friends had a car pass her so quickly it spun her around.”

The city’s Public Works director and Transportation and Circulation Committees recommended in 2007 that the city leave the crosswalk as-is. The transportation commission recommended against the signal because the intersection has not seen many serious accidents, commissioner Paul Spagnoli said. In addition, few locals offered their input when it came time for them to vote.

That changed once San Carlos resident June Penning started circulating a petition in favor of a traffic light last fall, first at the Adult Community Center, and then at Foodville and a handful of local events. Before she knew it, she’d collected 589 signatures supporting the traffic lights.

“The City Council wouldn’t believe we got that many,” Penning said. “I had people tell me, as they signed it, ‘God bless you for doing this.’”

The nearly 600 signatures prompted the City Council to OK construction of the $200,000 signal. The council will vote tonight whether to seek bids on the project.

Most of the intersections along San Carlos, including Cedar, Elm, Walnut and Laurel streets already have traffic lights, said Public Works Director Parviz Mokhtari. When the new one is built, all the lights will be timed so drivers won’t have to cool their heels at more than one red light.

Money to build the signal will come from the city’s capital improvements fund, which currently contains about $800,000, Mokhtari said. If the bidding process happens quickly, thelights could be built this fall.

“We needed a signal there real bad,” Penning said. “They have those little safety flags, but cars don’t want to stop. People just drive through there as fast as they can.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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