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San Joaquin County seeks grants to slow traffic near schools in Lockeford, Thornton

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Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:07 am, Tue Apr 24, 2012.

Two rural areas outside of Lodi may soon be safer for children who walk to school if San Joaquin County qualifies for federal grant funding that targets student safety.

The county has applied for $130,000 in the Safe Routes to Schools program to make Jack Tone Road safer for Lockeford Elementary School students, and $85,000 for North Sacramento Boulevard in Thornton, adjacent to New Hope School.

If the grant is approved, the county will install an LED sign at a crosswalk on Jack Tone Road, just north of Lambert Way, where motorists will be informed in no uncertain terms how fast they are driving.

County officials also hope to relocate the existing crosswalk on Jack Tone Road and maybe add a walking path to separate students from vehicles, said Art Hand, assistant superintendent of facilities and planning of the Lodi Unified School District.

The Thornton grant would provide similar signs on both sides of New Hope School near Mater Ecclesiae Catholic Church.

The idea in both communities is to slow down traffic when children are walking or bicycling to and from school, said Dodgie Vidad, a traffic engineer for the county Public Works Department.

“People seem to go pretty fast through here,” said Autumn Gutherie, a Lodi High junior who walks to her Lockeford home from a bus stop.

It’s worse for younger students, she said.

What many people don’t realize is that Jack Tone Road behind Lockeford Elementary is a residential area with a 25 mph speed limit, said Claudette Davidson, a crossing guard for the past 20 years. Most of the 26-mile stretch of Jack Tone Road from Lockeford to Ripon consists of ranches on both sides of the road.

But not in Lockeford.

“This is a residential area,” Davidson said. “Kids run back and forth, and back and forth.”

The California Department of Transportation, which administers the federal Safe Routes for Schools funding, is determining how worthy the county’s grant application is. Vidad said he will find out by early summer whether the county will receive the grant money.

In addition to the grant applications for Lockeford and Thornton, the county has applied for funds near schools in Stockton, Tracy and Ripon.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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