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School Board to address traffic, safety issues

Three separate incidents involving students and vehicles over the past two years have prompted the Mercer Island School Board to take a look at how to improve traffic and pedestrian safety around the high school.

The effort will be part of the overall physical facilities plan, which prioritizes the correction of unsafe conditions and other needs.

In 2009, a student was hit in the crosswalk by an eastbound car turning from 88th Avenue S.E. just before school began.

That same year, a student bicycle rider traveling west hit a car that stopped abruptly in front of him at the intersection of 88th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 42nd Street crosswalk in the afternoon. The student was taken to Harborview Medical Center with head injuries.

Last May, a pair of students, a brother and sister, were hit near the same intersection just before 8 a.m. The driver said he did not see them due to the glare of the morning sun. The girl was taken to Harborview with a fractured arm and shoulder.

Pat Braman, vice president of the board, said she couldn’t remember this many incidences with kids and cars prior to these three. The board speculated that behavioral issues could be a part of the problem, both with parents and students.

Students and parents driving their own cars [to school] is part of our culture, said superintendent Gary Plano, and it’s going to be hard to change that.

However, the board plans to meet with students for their input, enlist the Mercer Island Police Department to monitor speeding and jaywalking around the school, possibly change the main entry to the school, and ask the city to upgrade or add pedestrian crosswalks.

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