City council votes to improve safety at Cleveland Middle School crosswalk

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Monday night, city councilors voted to move forward with a plan to make a crosswalk near Cleveland Middle School safer, and see how it can improve others like it. 

This comes two weeks after a 12-year-old student was hit-and-killed there by a driver who says he never saw her. 

The project for one specialized signal will cost more than $300,000. The city is not only considering installing a specialized signal at the Louisiana crosswalk, but it’s looking at all school crosswalks throughout the city. 

“Not only does the city need to be involved, but [Albuquerque Public Schools] needs to be involved… We need to have them on board with us. This is not just one entity’s problem,” Councilor Diane Gibson said. 

City Councilors Brad Winter and Diane Gibson co-sponsored the resolution that looks at creating a task force to help identify and study schools located near busy intersections that would benefit from improved pedestrian crossings. 

The city is looking at what’s called a “high intensity activated crosswalk,” or “HAWK” system, that pedestrians could activate on their own even after school hours. 

This comes just two weeks after police say Cleveland Middle schooler Justine Almuina and a friend were crossing Louisiana Boulevard at Natalie Avenue. Even though they were crossing at the crosswalk, it was after school hours. 

Police say the two girls paused in the median, one driver stopped to let them cross, but another said he didn’t see them and hit Almuina. She later died at the hospital.

At Monday’s meeting, a University of New Mexico student addressed the council. She’s also a former student of Cleveland Middle School. 

“I’ve had too many close calls at this intersection. Not just myself, but my little brother and my classmates would gamble with our safety everyday, asking, ‘Is that car going to notice us as we’re walking the street?'” Emily Ashby said. 

The $330,000 will cover the cost of the first study and the specialized signal. It’s expected to be installed at  Cleveland Middle School by August before the school year begins. 
 

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