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School Opening Leads to Traffic Hazards

March 16, 1995|CYNTHIA WALKER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Since the opening of Gabrielino High School last September, the student populations at two other campuses have nearly doubled, resulting in hazardous traffic for students who walk or ride bikes to school.

"It's a dangerous situation and there have been a few close calls," said Roosevelt Principal Christopher Dowell. "At peak hours, there are a lot of children and vehicles, and the sidewalks are limited in the area."

The increase in students is a result of the need for San Gabriel unified to accommodate the high school, which opened after city residents voted to secede from the Alhambra City and High School Districts. Rather than build a new campus, the fledgling district created Gabrielino High at the site of the district's former intermediate school, Jefferson, at 1400 Lafayette St. in San Gabriel.

Carrying out the changes meant a complicated series of shuffles. Jefferson moved to the site of Madison Elementary, whose sixth-graders continued to attend the new middle school there, while the younger students were sent off to Roosevelt Elementary, located on heavily used Walnut Grove Avenue.

Both schools increased their enrollment by about 300 students.

Parents have collected about 1,000 signatures on a petition for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, urging him to help ease the situation by helping them get sidewalks on county-owned streets. And school administrators are working with the city and county to improve the situation.

"We are working on developing more pick-up and drop-off points around the campuses," said district Supt. Gary Goodson. "And we are requesting sidewalks along Broadway and Walnut Grove Avenue."

At Roosevelt, teachers and students participated in a recent school assembly that focused on street safety.

"We have a crossing guard, but there is still a lot of traffic," Dowell said. "And until we get some help, students just have to be more cautious."

Parts of the affected streets--Walnut Grove Avenue, Burton Avenue and Broadway--are in the city's jurisdiction and some are in the county's.

The lack of sidewalks has been a big problem for years, Dowell said. If the city and county agree on building a sidewalk, school officials said, construction would begin this summer.

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