LIVONIA — Danielle Howell is a crossing guard and mom. When her son reaches high school, she’s worried about how safe he’ll be getting there.
“Even at an elementary school, a lot of cars take it upon themselves to drive past even if there’s a crossing guard,” she said. “It undermines what I, as a crossing guard, am doing and puts people in danger.”
Other parents in the Livonia Public Schools district share Howell’s concerns. One of those parents is City Council President Jim Jolly, who’s asking city administration to add better pedestrian crossings and more stop signs near schools on city streets.
“This is a long developing problem,” Jolly said. “On a lot of these streets near schools, there used to be stop signs. Between 10 and 15 years ago, they were all removed with the understanding that cars would drive slower if there were no stop signs. So all of these stop signs got removed and turned these residential streets into cut through points and half mile roads.”
Fighting for safer walkways
According to Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan, the city’s traffic commission is set to explore flashing crosswalk signs near schools in a meeting this month.
“School crossings are critical safety issue,” Brosnan said in an email.
But city officials can only do so much. Some of the district’s schools are located on locally-controlled roads and others, including the three high schools, are located on roads controlled and maintained by Wayne County. If any stop signs, crosswalk signals or painted crosswalks were to be added at some schools, Wayne County would have to do it.
Additionally, middle and high school students are not accompanied by crossing guards when walking to and from school.
Livonia school officials sent a letter to Wayne County Commissioner Glenn Anderson about getting a crossing beacon at Joy Road and Liberty Boulevard in front of Franklin High School.
According to Anderson, he’s requested the county department of public services explore putting a beacon signal at that intersection, and feels that location would be a good candidate for grant funding. Anderson said he has not heard back from the county.
“We have reached out to the city of Livonia and Wayne County, as recently as May 2023, with design options and a request for funding to install lighted crossing signage at the current (near Franklin) crosswalk,” Superintendent Andrea Oquist said in an email. “We are pleased that our city partners see this as a priority as well. LPS is more than willing to work with the appropriate jurisdictions to make this happen for our students.”
On the city’s side, Jolly said he’s advocating for wide-spread improvements. City and school officials stated they hope to avoid student-vehicle crash issues like those experienced in districts like Wayne-Westland Community Schools.
“We need to have designated crosswalks with signals in front of the schools at a minimum,” Jolly said. “As a dad, I think those stop signs should come back and we need those flashing signals.”
More:Yemeni coffee house brings new, unique drinks to Livonia
More:Settler’s Ridge, with 289 homes planned at Coyote Golf Course in Lyon, moves forward
More:Here comes #NFID24. North Farmington seniors go all out for ID photos
According to multiple parents who reached out to Hometown Life, a Livonia Franklin student was hit by a car mirror while crossing at Joy and Merriman roads last week.
“They need more stop signs, they need flashing crosswalks, they need to crack down on speeders and they need better lighting,” said Collette Legal, whose son attends Franklin.
Getting drivers to slow down
Crosswalks aside, parents say careless driving is also a major concern.
“People are rude,” Howell, in her second year as a crossing guard, said. “They get up close to me and they huff and puff. Everybody is always in a rush. I’ve watched kids have to step back to miss a car. It’s not safe.”
Others agreed, saying drivers headed by schools should be especially careful.
Mike Testa and others argued better collaboration between the city, school district and county is needed to create a lasting solution to keep students safe.
“I’ve never hit anyone, but I double and triple check,” said Testa, who has four children in the district. “There are a lot of near-misses.”
Get the latest headlines for metro Detroit every morning in your mailbox by signing up for our daily briefings newsletter.
Contact reporter Shelby Tankersley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-305-0448.