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Turlock, Hilmar receive Cal Trans grant to improve pedestrian safety around schools
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The State of California Department of  Transportation announced that Turlock will be receiving a nearly $320,000 grant through the Safe Routes to School Program for pedestrian safety construction in front of Turlock Junior High.

Funding is part of a $48.5 million statewide effort of 139 projects aimed at increasing safety and helping to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities among children in grades K-12 who walk and bicycle to school.

City of Turlock Engineering Technician Mike York said the funds will go towards building either a fenced or landscaped median on North Walnut Road between West Christoffersen Parkway and Winter Haven Drive. Last year a 12-year-old TJHS student was struck and badly injured after she darted into traffic at that very location. York said the incident played a role when the city was selecting school pedestrian areas in need of improvement.

According to York, included in the $320,000 was $10,000 for implementation of an educational program or activity that encourages students to use safe routes and crosswalks as opposed to jaywalking.          

Merced County will also receive a grant for $165,600 to construct sidewalks and curbs near Hilmar High School, Elim Elementary and Hilmar Middle Schools. In early 2011, lighted crosswalks in front of Hilmar High and Elim began to malfunction, which prompted urgent repairs by Merced County. Pedestrian safety is a primary concern in Hilmar due to the proximity to Highway 165 and the regular presence of heavy tule fog in winter months.

“Safety is Caltrans’ number one priority,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “We are committed to providing the highest safety possible for our children as they travel to and from school in California.”