City looks to improve pedestrian safety near intermediate school

In response to a student being struck by a car last year, the City of Oak Harbor is looking into a mid-block crossing area near Oak Harbor Intermediate School.

Last week, Public Works staff told council that a consultant found safety improvements to the area of Sixth Avenue are needed.

Council unanimously voted to approve staff to apply for a grant to complete the project.

The grant, through the state Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program, would pay for radar-activated flashing beacons to increase visibility of a mid-block crossing area. Staff anticipates other improvements are needed, such as narrowing the street, which aren’t covered under the grant.

The project’s estimated total cost is $76,000, and the city would be responsible for $34,000.

Councilman Rick Almberg said he hopes the Oak Harbor School District will help share the costs because the aim of the project is to improve safety of students.

Councilwoman Erica Wasinger, whose daughter attends Oak Harbor Intermediate, said she isn’t against the proposal, but noted, “it’s made clear” that parents and families aren’t supposed to park on Sixth Avenue and have students cross the street.

There is a drop-off and pick-up area on Third Avenue.

“My plea is for parents to not park on sixth,” she said.

Councilwoman Tara Hizon said it’s possible she’s been one of the people who didn’t know the rules about parking on that side of the street while picking up her niece at the school.

“I think this is a tremendous opportunity,” she said.

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