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Police chief reviews walking path plan for RB students after first week of class

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 11:39 a.m. CST
Caption
(Photo provided)
Temporary snow fencing was added at First Avenue and Ridgewood Road after police observed cars scrubbing their tires as they tried to make the turn from First to Ridgewood. Students crowd the corners after dismissal and police were concerned for their safety, Police Chief Tom Weitzel said.
Caption
(Photo provided)
Students eager to leave school grounds for home pack up on the south corner of First Avenue and Ridgewood Road.

RIVERSIDE – The Riverside Police Department released its walking and crossing path plan Aug. 5 for students headed to Riverside Brookfield High School across construction congested First Avenue.

Police Chief Tom Weitzel said the implementation of the plan has gone well during the first half week of school. Classes started Aug. 13 at the high school.

“It’s been very orderly,” Weitzel said. “But it’s been very congested. We’ve had more issues at dismissal than arrival.”

The walking and crossing plan continues to change as police make observations, Weitzel added. After seeing cars and trucks turning right from Ridgewood Road to First Avenue – with some rubbing their tires on the curb and others going over the curb as they make a turn – the police department has added temporary snow fencing at the intersection to guide drivers.

Weitzel said when school is released, students are flooding the intersection, and it’s creating pedestrian congestion at the corners, as well.

“Generally between 3:05 and 3:25 [p.m.], were seeing 30 to 40 students [at the southwest corner of Ridgewood and First] and the sidewalks just don’t have enough room for that many,” Weitzel said.

Construction on First Avenue is expected to continue throughout the 2014-2015 RB school year. Construction closed the north sidewalk along First and Forest avenues, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate the intersection, Weitzel said.

Working with area municipal departments, including the villages of Brookfield and North Riverside, the walking route and crossing plan for First Avenue was created to make student’s commute to school as safe as possible.

Several safety improvements were already put in place for the first day of school. The crosswalks at Forest and Groveland avenues, at Forest Avenue and Parkview Road, and at First Avenue and Ridgewood Road were newly painted. A stop sign to warn drivers to halt for pedestrians in the crosswalk was positioned in the middle of Forest Avenue at Groveland.

Additionally, crossing guards were positioned on the east and west sides of Forest Avenue and on the south side of Forest Avenue. The guards will stay in position for a half an hour longer during each shift. Cellphones also were given to all crossing guards so that they could communicate quickly with the police department if needed. Weitzel said Riverside patrol officers would also be conducting regular checks for traffic violations in the area during the hours that students will be commuting before and after school.

Students are being told to cross at Groveland on the south side of Forest Avenue and walk west. Students are being told not to use First Avenue to commute. To cut down on traffic in the area, students should be encouraged to walk or bike when possible, police said.

Overall, Weitzel said he’s seen many students on bikes, or walking to school and observing the safe route.

The police department used the first week of class to remind residents of driving restriction in the area. Uniformed officers, as well as Weitzel, have been at the school every day. The police department will start issuing citations for drivers who double park, drive recklessly or parking in a no-parking zone as of Monday. The police department is also reminding drivers not to use their cellphones while driving, after seeing the violation throughout the week.

“There’s a lot going on – people just need to be patient and pay attention to the crossing guards,” Weitzel said.

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