By JULIE JOHNSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Crosswalk signs, fresh striping and other traffic safety improvements will begin to appear at several Rohnert Park crosswalks in the wake of the death last year of a toddler hit by a car.
The City Council on Tuesday night approved an early phase of a citywide traffic improvement project that eventually will cost $510,000.
The traffic study was commissioned following heightened community concern after Calli Murray, 2, killed when she and her mother were struck Dec. 1 by a vehicle in the Snyder Lane crosswalk at Medical Center Drive. Some residents have called the crosswalk dangerous.
The improvements include many of the suggestions in a report by Santa Rosa-based firm W-Trans for both short-term and longer-term projects to improve crosswalk visibility and give bicyclists greater time to cross the street.
“I’m very excited,” said Mayor Gina Belforte of the improvements.
Belforte and other members of the council said changes were especially needed at Rancho Verde Circle and Rohnert Park Expressway just west of Highway 101. A traffic light will be installed where residents of a nearby mobile home park must cross four lanes of traffic to reach a popular shopping center.
Darrin Jenkins, the city development services director, recommended short term improvements to 75 crossings where there are no stop signs or traffic lights. Those changes could include painted stop bars so vehicles know where to stop and clearer crosswalk paintings.
On busier streets, he suggested adding two crosswalk warning signs in both directions.
Short-term improvements, including fresh crosswalk paint, will be added along Snyder Lane, where the child was fatally struck. Longer-term changes will be incorporated as the city widens the street within a few years.
Calli Murray’s father, Jeff Murray, said late Tuesday that he hoped at least some of the crosswalk changes would be made before the school year begins along roads where students walk to school.
“Any change is good,” Murray said.
The bulk of the cost, about $300,000, will come from the city’s traffic signal impact fee revenues. The city could draw an additional $200,000 from traffic violation fines and forfeitures.
A portion of gas taxes taken by the city to maintain streets and traffic signals will cover $10,000 more, he said.
“We worked hard to develop a funding plan so the city won’t use general funds,” Jenkins said.
The city also will increase green light times to comply with new state guidelines intended to give enough time for bicyclists to cross, and add battery backups to traffic lights for power failures.
Specific construction plans and bids will come before the council again for approval.