Anchorage mother calling for safer student walking routes

 A student crosses the road near Mears Middle School
A student crosses the road near Mears Middle School (KTUU)
Published: Sep. 20, 2019 at 6:39 PM AKDT
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A concerned Anchorage mother is taking action to improve safety for student pedestrians on their way to and from school -- but she's finding out that a mother's touch isn't quite enough to make permanent changes to Anchorage roadways.

April Eide says she's tired of hearing about students getting hit at a busy intersection near Mears Middle School.

"I had just picked my daughter up, and I got a phone call from one of my board members, and she was like, 'A kid was hit.' It made me sick to my stomach," Eide said, recalling when a vehicle hit a student in 2018. "The first week of school this year, another kid was hit."

Eide has kept a close eye on the busy four-way intersection of Victor Rd. and 100th Ave. out of concern for her two children who have attended Mears. She's made it her goal to keep all students out of harm's way.

“Something needs to be done about this intersection,” Eide said. “It’s so big, and drivers think they're more important than the kid crossing. What they need to think about is 'What if it was their child?'"

She says the route that students are supposed to use to cross 100th Ave. is out of the way from where they actually exit the school. Because it's more convenient, they cross at the busy intersection. Eide wants the city to move the crosswalk so students can safely cross as they exit school grounds.

She's made calls to city and state officials, the school district -- anyone who could possibly help make these changes. The municipality has its hands tied with making physical changes to state-managed roadways.

"We certainly want to be part of that conversation,” Anchorage School District Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth said. “We want to be engaged in it. But if it's infrastructure-related, we don't have the ability to execute those to completion."

Any design changes to local roadways fall to the Department of Transportation to complete. Assembly member John Weddleton says ASD should be able to get DOT’s attention.

“We need ASD to say 'Move your crosswalk. You put it in the wrong place,'” Weddleton said. “And you guys have a lot of clout to say that."

The assembly and school district recently formed a Hazardous Routes Committee to look at ongoing safety and transportation issues. ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop says the district recognizes there's a problem and wants to be part of the solution.

Channel 2 reached out to DOT for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

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