Published November 30th, 2016
Residents Concerned About More Traffic on Canyon Road, Saying it Endangers Students at JM
By Sophie Braccini
Crossing guard Barbara Espenmiller stops traffic for JM students going to school. Photo Sophie Braccini
On a typical morning, Barbara Espenmiller interacts constantly with the Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School students, asking them to get down from their bike or skates and wait for her to stop traffic first. "People are supposed to stop when they see kids standing there, but they don't," she says. She adds that she very much enjoys the interaction with the young students, that they are fabulous, very responsive and always polite.
Not so some of the drivers.
Some say that the mobile apps that minimize traveling time now guide people over the hill, increasing automobile traffic and speed through on Canyon Road and Pinehurst in Moraga. Police Chief Jon King says that he has no hard data to substantiate the claim, but that his officers have noticed a lot of fast traffic traveling east and west on Canyon Road.
At a recent Moraga Town Council meeting, Barbara Espenmiller and her husband Allen, who are crossing guards at Joaquin Moraga at the crossing to Camino Pablo and Canyon Road, came to ask for support: They say the intersection is very dangerous and they themselves have almost been hit a few times.
Barbara Espenmiller does the morning and Allen patrols in the afternoon. She arrives at 7:30 a.m. to be there for those students who arrive early. The school now starts at 8:30 a.m. and she makes sure to stay until the last student has crossed the interection.
The Espenmillers are new to the world of crossing guards, but they quickly noticed that the main problem came from traffic travelling west, because drivers sometimes do not see the traffic guards when they are hidden by cars or buses getting ready to make a left on Camino Pablo.
"We get out as far as we can to get people to stop," Allen Espenmiller told the council at the Nov. 9 meeting. "We are successful 95 percent of the time, but some people won't stop. I had three in a row yesterday!" He and his wife add that parents in a hurry making a left turn on Camino Pablo are not always very eager to stop.
The Espenmillers asked the council for three things: re-stripping of the crosswalks that they think are fading and are not visible enough, installation of flashing lights that would alert drivers that people are crossing the road, and more police enforcement.
Barbara Espenmiller said that the police have recently issued five citations to cars that were speeding or did not stop when asked. She says that having officers there when possible really helps.
King said that his officers are doing all they can to make sure that all the children at all the schools have safe routes to school. He noted that speeding continues to be a rampant problem in Moraga and that it is a threat to the whole population.
As far as increased traffic is concerned, King added that the mobile apps direct people to roads that are opened to the public and that there is nothing that can be done about it. The town of Moraga disassembled the Traffic and Safety Advisory Committee over two years ago, so residents who have concerns about traffic related topics need to address them to Edric Kwan, town engineer and public works director.

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Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA