Cloverdale on Friday got a new flashing crosswalk at a dangerous intersection that was the scene of death and injury last year.
The LightGuard system, with road-embedded, flashing amber lights on each side of the crosswalk, is touted as one of the most effective systems for getting motorists to notice pedestrians and stop.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Mayor Carol Russell as she watched the $60,000 crosswalk activated. “I'm getting good feedback from people who say it's great.”
“Here comes a kid on a bike now,” said City Manager Paul Cayler as he watched the boy trigger the in-road flashing lights. Cars stopped as the child safely crossed the wide swath of South Cloverdale Boulevard.
The small cluster of Cloverdale officials and engineers gathered Friday in the bright afternoon sunshine and expressed their satisfaction. But the real difference will be apparent at night.
That's when the most serious incidents, including a fatality, occurred at the crosswalk, located at Healdsburg Avenue, just south of the Citrus Fairgrounds.
After dark on July 7, Maria Ponce, 68, of Cloverdale was struck and fatally injured in the crosswalk.
The 83-year-old driver said he didn't see her, although police said he was not wearing required corrective lenses.
Then on Halloween night, two cousins aged 12 and 13 were struck by a pickup driver who said he didn't see them. One of the boys spent weeks in the hospital as the result of his badly broken legs and surgeries.
The incidents generated a strong outcry from the family of Ponce and other members of the community, who begged the City Council to put in more lighting and safety measures.
Flower bouquets and votive candles still remain on one end of the crosswalk as a poignant memorial to Ponce, who was a great grandmother and matriarch of a large family.
When the council in November approved the new crosswalk safety measures and addition of an overhead streetlight, Ponce family members said it gave them a small measure of peace.