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Schools win safety grant

A Safe Routes to School award seeks to boost walking and reduce traffic congestion.

October 25, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • Parent volunteer Maria Cecilia holds a child's umbrella as she helps students out of their vehicles at Cerritos Elementary School in Glendale on October 25, 2011. Parent volunteers keep traffic moving in front of the school as children arrive in the morning. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Parent volunteer Maria Cecilia holds a child's…

Glendale schools will receive $1 million to improve safety on nearby roads and crossings to encourage more parents and students to ride a bicycle or walk to campus.

The competitive grant was awarded through the Federal Safe Routes to School Program as a part an effort to increase safety around Glendale schools. The city also received $500,000 to fund educational programs that promote walking or cycling among students in 21 elementary and middle schools.

“We are in an age where most kids are probably not riding or walking to school,” Public Works Director Steve Zurn said.

In most cases, parents drop or pick up their children, which he said often causes traffic congestion and parking issues around some Glendale campuses.

Much of the money will fund infrastructure improvements at Chamlian Armenian School and Valley View, Franklin, Edison and Cerritos elementary schools.

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In some cases, the schools lacked sidewalks, parking, crossing guards and flashing crosswalks.

Chamlian Principal Vazken Madenlian called the traffic flow at the Lowell Avenue campus a “serious situation.”

During peak traffic hours, a line of cars backs up from the school to the Lowell Avenue offramp from the Foothill (210) Freeway, he added.

“This is something that we have to sit down and talk with traffic engineers to look at exactly what we need,” Madenlian said.

Walking and riding a bicycle to school is more challenging for Chamlian students since many of them live in other cities, including Pasadena and Burbank, he said. But administrators encourage parents and students to carpool to reduce traffic congestion, Madenlian added.

Zurn said city officials want to make riding a bicycle and walking more “safe and attractive” for students while reducing the odds of injury or death.

City officials worked closely with administrators from Glendale Unified and private schools to determine necessary improvements.

The city has already received $1.34-million from two state Safe Routes to School grants for enhancements to 12 Glendale schools.

“We put a lot of work into it,” Zurn said of the grant process.

Some improvements at the schools include curb extensions, flashing lights at crosswalks, raised crosswalks, signs, road striping and crossing islands.

Improvements funded through the 2011 grant won’t likely begin until summer 2013, Zurn said.

Grant funding has also helped pay for district-wide Walk to School days.

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