Inattentive drivers give busy intersection history of accidents; students suggest adding stoplight

Jacqueline Chao
Sophomores Gabi Alvarado and Brandy Riziki return to school from Loehmann’s Plaza by using the flags at the Munroe Street crosswalk. The flags were added to the busy crosswalk by SCDS parents since so many students have had near-accident incidents there. In an Oct. 3 Octagon poll of 117 high schoolers, 28 said they’ve almost been hit.

Before school on Sept. 26, seventh grader Tina Huang and her mother were turning left from Munroe Street onto Latham Drive when they were rear-ended.

Neither one was hurt, but this isn’t the first time there has been an accident at the intersection.

Jenny Kerbs, ‘16, caused a three-car accident while crossing Munroe after parking her car.

“Some woman saw me at the last minute, so she stopped.,” Kerbs, now a freshman at Vassar College, said. “But when she stopped, the person behind her didn’t see and crashed into her.”

“And the person behind him didn’t see either and crashed into the second car.”

It was also raining that day, which could have exacerbated the issue, she said.

Kerbs said she thinks a stoplight would have prevented the crash.

“Even just a blinking light that pedestrians could press would have helped,” she said.

“Basically anything would be better than what there is now.”

There have also been many near-accidents that have involved other students.

Late last school year, juniors Esme Bruce-Romo and Smita Sikaria walked to Loehmann’s Plaza for food and were almost hit while crossing Munroe on the way back to school.

“When we began to cross, all of the cars on Munroe had come to a stop, but there was a woman that was waiting on Latham to make a left turn (onto Munroe),” Bruce-Romo said.

“She tried to turn, but the second she realized she wasn’t going to make it, she stopped about five feet to my left.”

In an effort to solve the problem, neon-orange flags were added in May 2015, by Doug and Susan Brown, parents of junior Lily and Emma, ‘16. While students say the flags are helpful, they also say drivers don’t always pay attention to them.

Bruce-Romo and Sikaria didn’t use the flags but said that because the woman saw them, waving flags wouldn’t have changed anything.

Also near the end of last school year, freshman Monet Cook was almost hit while she and a group of friends were crossing Munroe, even though they were using the flags.

“We had split into two big groups, and one of the groups had already crossed the street,” Cook said.

Cook was still waiting to cross, and she was waving a flag. Then she and her friends started to cross.

“We were almost across when a car came at us really fast, and someone yelled at the front of our group to step back,” Cook said.

“We stepped back, and the car hit no one, but it was still really scary.”

And, of course, students can’t use the flags if they’re on bikes.

When sophomores Gabi Alvarado and Brandy Riziki were biking home last spring, they were almost hit by Johann Dias, ‘16.

“We were on the other side of Munroe, and (Dias) pulled out because he was parked and almost hit us,” Alvarado said.

While the flags do draw attention to pedestrians, they are not a permanent solution.

In late May of 2015, Sacramento’s traffic engineering department proposed adding a pedestrian refuge island and rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB).

However, when contacted for an update on the proposal, John Perez, who works in traffic engineering, redirected the reporter to the Office of Media and Communications.

Then Maria Razo, a Media and Communications specialist for the city of Sacramento, said the questions should be directed to Sacramento County, not the city.

“And despite repeated calls, members of the Department of Transportation for Sacramento County could not be reached.

Thus far, nothing has been done because, according to chief financial officer Bill Petchauer, this option is still awaiting funding by the city.

According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, the cost for building a refuge island ranges from $535-1,065 per foot, depending on design, site conditions and material.

The cost of purchasing and installing two RRFBs (one on either side of the street) is $10,000-15,000, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website states.

As for a traffic light, in 2010 the Munroe-Latham intersection was 23rd on the list of streets awaiting a light Petchauer, said.

Six years later it is 18th.

By Allison Zhang

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