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LA PALMA Residents will get what for two months they demanded: a new stoplight near Kennedy High School, where a 16-year-old girl was struck by a car in November.
On Tuesday night, several members of the crowd applauded after the La Palma City Council voted unanimously to grant the public’s wish by approving the stoplight.
The signal will be known as “Sydney’s light,” named after Sydney Ramirez, the Cypress student whose death sparked the push for changes at the intersection of Crescent Avenue and Watson Street.
“It’s the best thing to do,” Councilman Mark Waldman said before voting to approve the stoplight.
A traffic study commissioned by La Palma and Cypress concluded a stoplight should be installed because the crosswalk is near a school, and heavily used.
In addition, the nearest existing stoplight at Crescent Avenue and Walker Street is more than 300 feet from the Watson Street crosswalk.
“I’m glad to see studies support what we thought we needed all along,” Councilman Henry Charoen said. He thanked the audience for their patience as the project worked its way through the process.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Traffic Commission in Cypress unanimously agreed with the proposal to put up a stoplight at the intersection. With La Palma’s action, Cypress public works officials will move ahead with planning the project and securing bids. The westbound lanes of Crescent Avenue sit within La Palma’s city limits, while the eastbound lanes are in Cypress.
That meant both cities needed to approve plans for the stoplight. Public works officials in Cypress said that because city rules are different there than they are in La Palma, the signal did not need City Council approval, only the agreement of the Traffic Commission and Public Works Director Douglas Dancs.
La Palma City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said it would take about four to six months before the stoplight is operational. Each city will pay about $125,000 for the stoplight and flashing warning lights. Cypress will take the lead on installation.
Lori Dinwiddie of Buena Park, the head of the safety committee for Kennedy High’s Parent Teacher Student Association, applauded the action.
“La Palma and Cypress have worked very well together,” she said at the Cypress meeting. “I’m very happy about this.”
Along with the stoplight, the La Palma council approved two smaller signs dedicating the new signal as “Sydney’s Light.”
While discussing the item, La Palma Councilman Steve Hwangbo and Mayor Ralph Rodriguez said they would have preferred taking out the Crescent Avenue crosswalk altogether.
Public Works Director Jeff Moneda said the city considered that alternative, but decided that students would cross Crescent Avenue there, crosswalk or no crosswalk.
The crossing has been there for 30 years.
Ramirez was severely injured after being struck by a vehicle while walking across a marked crosswalk near campus about 6:45 a.m. Nov. 1. She died three days later at Long Beach Memorial Hospital after being taken off life support.
A Los Angeles County teacher has been accused of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in connection with Ramirez’s death.
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