[symple_googlemap title=”” location=”Fountain Avenue and Bronson avenue, Hollywood, CA” height=”300″ zoom=”13″]

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell on Monday unveiled flashing beacons near Joseph Le Conte Middle School in Hollywood, where a woman was fatally struck by a big rig while walking her 10-year-old daughter to school.

The flashing beacons are placed at the southwest corner of Le Conte Middle School, at Fountain and Bronson avenues, and is a block away from new stop signs recently installed at Fernwood and Bronson avenues, according to Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lisa Martellaro-Palmer.

Marleni Edith Barrera, 42, died Feb. 11 from injuries she suffered when she and her daughter were struck on Bronson Avenue while walking to Citizens of the World Charter School on the campus of Le Conte Middle School, police said.

The accident prompted city officials to put a crossing guard at the school at 1316 N. Bronson Ave.

More funding was made available this year for crossing guards, and the city is planning to deploy 40 of them citywide, according to Martellaro-Palmer.

Seleta Reynolds, general manager of the Transportation Department, cheered the efforts to improve traffic safety near Le Conte.

“As the parent of a first-grader who walks to school every day, I appreciate not just professionally but personally how critical it is for parents, educators and the city to come together to make it safe for children to get to and from school the way many of us did when we were young. And that’s by bike and by foot together with their families,” she said.

City officials today also discussed Safe Passages, a pilot program started by the City Attorney’s Office that recruits parents and community members as volunteer chaperones for students walking to school.

City officials, who are promoting October as Walk to School Month, said the program is aimed at encouraging students to adopt healthier habits such as walking or biking to school, and to ensure their path to school is safe.

O’Farrell announced the safety measures during a walk with students, parents and school officials.

“Today is an important day and the culmination of months of hard work to improve safety in the most important corridors,” O’Farrell said.

Thanks to the work his staff, the City Attorney’s Office, neighboring businesses and community groups did with school officials and parents, “we now have improved pedestrian safety measures in place that will benefit the entire neighborhood,” O’Farrell said.

Youth Policy Institute, which also took part in today’s unveiling, collaborated with O’Farrell’s and the City Attorney’s office to implement the traffic measures. The nonprofit has been working with the community over the past nine months to address their major public safety concerns, according to its community development director, Angelica Solis.

The parent volunteer Safe Passages program was formed in response to concerns parents have about children walking to school, Solis said.

The Youth Policy Institute and the City Attorney’s Office are coordinating the pilot walk-to-school program, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Justice Department.

It is one of several initiatives in the City Attorney’s Neighborhood School Safety Program that is also being implemented at the Barack Obama Global Preparatory Middle School, Vista Middle School and John Liechty Middle School.

City Attorney Mike Feuer said his school safety program is “an innovative approach that incorporates an array of resources to ensure neighborhoods are safe and healthy places for kids and their families.”

“We are pleased that an important component of our program, safe passages to school, is being launched at Le Conte Middle School,” he said.

Solis said the Youth Policy Institute hopes the pilot Safe Passages program will encourage more funding for similar programs at other schools.

The U.S Justice Department funding used to plan the program in Hollywood came about with the help of the area’s designation as a Promise Zone, an initiative announced by President Barack Obama in this year’s State of the Union address to address poverty, according to Solis.

“A student’s success in school is not only dependent on academics, but also on their personal well-being,” Solis said. “This is why the community partnership formed to ensure children feel safe walking to and from school through the Safe Passages program is so important. We look forward to working with the parent volunteers to implement the program.”

City News Service

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