ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque has been working through the pandemic to make school crosswalks safer. It follows the death of a girl near an Albuquerque middle school. The city invested more than $500,000 to improve crosswalk safety at nearly 50 elementary and middle schools across the metro.
“There’s been so many times I’ve seen near accidents – kids walking and almost getting hit,” said a grandmother while she waited to pick up her grandkids from Chaparral Elementary School. She did not want to be identified, but she says the project is necessary. Chaparral is one of the schools that has already seen $6,000 in crosswalk improvements.
The city did find that most crosswalks do meet the necessary standards, especially those at elementary schools because they have crossing guards. However, there are several that need to be updated. Improvements include repainting the crosswalk, putting up more signs, lights, or hawk signals.
Some of the more notable changes the city has made in the last year include installing new signals near LBJ, Eisenhower, and Desert Ridge Middle Schools. The city put together a task force to study school crosswalks, following the death of 12-year-old Eliza Justine Almuina in 2018. She was in the crosswalk in front of Cleveland Middle School when a driver hit her.
“This project is a great example of the community coming together with the school district and the city, to support the safety of our children,” said Dr. Gabrielle Duran Blakey, the Chief Operating Officer of Albuquerque Public Schools.
The city will also put in “leading pedestrian intervals” at every signalized school crossing in Albuquerque by the end of this month. They give the pedestrian a green walk signal as a head start on traffic.
The family of Eliza Justine Almuina filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, APS, and the driver. The city settled in January. Court documents show APS is trying to settle, details have not been released.