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Atherton crosswalk light debuts Aug. 1

 

The first of three specialized stoplights planned to protect crosswalks on El Camino Real in Atherton should be ready to operate on Aug. 1, the town says.

The new stoplights, which stay dark until activated by pedestrians or bicyclists, were requested by the town after a series of serious accidents and fatalities along the busy state highway that cuts through the town.

The first light will be at Almendral Avenue, where 32-year-old Atherton resident Shahriar Rahimzadeh was fatally injured in July 2014. Caltrans had previously agreed to install two pedestrian-activated stoplights on El Camino at Isabella and Alejandra avenues, the site of earlier serious accidents and fatalities.

However, despite political pressure from the town, Caltrans says those lights won't be installed until 2017.

After being frustrated by the slow pace of installing the other two lights, Atherton offered to pay for the light at Almendral. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District will pay half the $330,000 cost and will be able to activate the light remotely so its vehicles stationed on Almendral can more easily get onto El Camino.

The light remains dark until a pedestrian or cyclist presses a button, which causes a cycle of blinking yellow, yellow, red and blinking red lights before going dark again. The town says running the light will result in the same ticket as running more traditional lights, with a fine of up to $470.

The light at Almendral will be owned and maintained by Caltrans once it is installed.

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