By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dangerous crossings in Hilmar
Hilmar crossing pic 2
A Hilmar High School student crosses Landers Avenue to school on Tuesday morning. The cross walk has special lights built into the pavement to help motorists on the busy street stop for pedestrians but more than half of the lights aren’t working, leading to a dangerous situation for both pedestrians and drivers. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

During a recent Hilmar Municipal Advisory Council meeting, Isabel Cabral-Johnson, Hilmar Unified School District superintendent, updated council members about her concern for a potentially dangerous out-of-order set of lighted crosswalks in front of Elim Elementary School and Hilmar High School.

The lighted crosswalks are located on Lander Avenue (also known as Highway 165), which runs in front of the schools. The crosswalks were built in 2006 in order to create a safer, more visible cross walk. Lights are recessed into the pavement and when school children cross the lights rise up, alerting motorist of the crossing, which can be valuable in a thick Valley fog.

“It’s just not acceptable for those lights not to work,” said Cabral-Johnson.

Cabral-Johnson indicated that she had been looking into the matter and was trying find a solution for who is responsible for repairing the crosswalk, as well as who pays for the repairs.

According to Merced County Public Works Deputy Director Dana Hertfelder, the responsibility of the crosswalks “is confusing because you have three different agencies involved.” Hertfelder explained that Merced County has an agreement to reimburse Caltrans for all maintenance of the crosswalk, which sits on a highway and is under Caltrans scope of work.

However, “the county has an agreement from 2006 when the crosswalk was built for the school district to pay for 100 percent of maintenance cost,” explained Hertfelder. So, in short…Merced County pays Caltrans to repair the crosswalk but Hilmar Unified pays Merced County based on its original agreement.

Hertfelder estimated the cost to fix the crosswalks to be around $8,000.

“We are doing all we can to get this resolved quickly, in the next few weeks” said Hertfelder.

“I think we have the problem with the confusion solved and as far as the cost it may be something we (the district) may have to pay for,” said Cabral-Johnson.

California Highway Patrol Officer Bill Gordon monitors the crosswalks on a daily basis and he said he hands out tickets for motorists who commit crosswalk violations “at least once a day and in the first few months of school I’ll hand out four or five a day.”

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.