The vice mayor, a Latino man, and mayor, a Black woman, of Pittsburg, California, in a city council meeting

Pittsburg to Install Safety Measures at Five School Crossings

The vice mayor, a Latino man, and mayor, a Black woman, of Pittsburg, California, in a city council meeting

Vice Mayor Juan Antonio Banales and Mayor Shanelle Scales-Preston at the Nov. 6 Pittsburg City Council meeting. (Screenshot captured by Samantha Kennedy / The CC Pulse)

By Samantha Kennedy

The city of Pittsburg will begin the installation of rectangular rapid flashing beacons around school sites this month to improve pedestrian safety.

Pittsburg City Council unanimously voted to award over $150,000 to place the flashing beacons at five school crossings. Most funding will come from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transportation Development Act Article 3, which provides funds for pedestrian and bicycle projects.

Beacons will be installed at the intersections of Seeno Avenue and Tiffany Drive, Riverview Drive and Mori Street, Odessa Avenue and West Fourth Street, Buchanan Road and Heights Avenue, and School Street between Somers and Harbor streets.

The installation will begin eight months after a Pittsburg high schooler, Brooke Jeffrey, was killed in a hit-and-run while using a crosswalk at night. The crosswalk Jeffrey used was within walking distance of four schools, but residents reported that safety measures to increase pedestrian safety — such as signage and lights when a pedestrian is crossing — had never worked at that intersection.

Though the intersection Jeffrey used had safety measures installed, including the flashing beacons, her death raised the issue of protecting pedestrians at night.

During the daytime, Pittsburg Unified School District has a little over 30 crossing guards across 13 school sites. Many intersections around schools have signage, lights or roundabouts to reduce the potential for pedestrian injury.

Rapid flashing beacons have been shown to improve the safety of intersections in some cases. Depending on several factors, like speed limit and number of car lanes, they have increased driver yielding rates up to 98%. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends that beacons be installed alongside other pedestrian safety measures.

Traffic collision data shows that, since 2018, vehicle and pedestrian collisions have occurred 193 times. Of those, 145 collisions resulted in injuries, and five of them were fatalities.

Mayor Shanelle Scales-Preston asked staff at Monday’s meeting if they had identified other intersections that might benefit from the flashing beacons.

Staff said others had been identified and that they hoped more funding would be awarded annually to increase protections for those intersections near schools.

Pittsburg approved the project at its January 17 meeting after receiving an audit from Contra Costa Health Services regarding intersection safety.

Installation is expected to be completed in March.

The Pittsburg City Council’s next meeting, at which it will decide whether to fund additional police surveillance cameras, will be Nov. 20.

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