Seniors: Intersection needs safety boost

Guy Ackley recently stood in front of the Adult Community Center, grabbed a bright flag for visibility and gingerly made his way across San Carlos Avenue.

“I stepped off the curb and nobody stopped. One person honked at me,” Ackley said. “After that, I’m not very comfortable crossing there.”

A bucket of portable safety flags were added at the crosswalk where Chestnut Street meets San Carlos Avenue in 2004, shortly after community center patrons Margaret McEnnerny, 78, and Mariana Parise, 74, were struck by an SUV in the non-signalized crosswalk on Dec. 5, 2003. McEnnerny died of her injuries.

Now, seniors say the flags aren’t nearly enough to keep them safe when they’re crossing — a topic that returns to the city’s Transportation and Circulation Commission tonight.

The commission will weigh four options: leaving the crosswalk as it is; removing it and directing pedestrians to the signalized intersection at Elm Street; adding flashing lights at a cost of $45,000; or adding another signal at a cost of more than $200,000, according to Public Works Director Parviz Mokhtari.

When the commission first considered the issue in April, motions to leave the crosswalk alone and to direct pedestrians to Elm Street were voted down.

Commissioners wanted more public input before taking another vote, Chair Paul Spagnoli said.

“Cars just don’t stop. Or one lane of traffic will stop, but the other won’t,” said Vera Bogdan, who lives in the Coppertree apartments across from the community center and crosses at Chestnut regularly.

“One of my friends had a car pass her so quickly it spun her around.” Crossing at Elm makes life more difficult for some elderly residents because it adds two blocks to the trip, Bogdan said.

However, in terms of reported accidents, “it seems like San Carlos Avenue at Chestnut has not been a problem,” said San Carlos Police Department Sgt. John Read. Other areas — particularly along El Camino Real and Laurel Street — are more dangerous for pedestrians, Read said, adding that’s one reason El Camino has safety devices at all crosswalks.

But that’s little consolation to the 70 to 100 patrons who visit the Community Center daily, many of whom walk there, according to Linda Scannell, a clerk at the center.

“Every couple of months we do a survey, and the main concern is how dangerous it is,” Scannell said.

The commission meets tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 600 Elm St.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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