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Upgrades making Central safer for kids
$361,397 project paid by state grants
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Improvements are being made along Central Avenue as part of a Safe Routes to School grant. - photo by Jeff Benziger

There is lots of construction work along the Central Avenue corridor as the city of Ceres completes a state funded project to improve the safety of students walking to and from schools.

The city of Ceres won the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant to make improvements between Whitmore Avenue and Hatch Road since the road is heavily used by students attending Caswell Elementary, Ceres High School, Modesto Adventist Academy and Summit Charter Academy, all on Central Avenue. The improvements are also expected to help students who use Central Avenue to walk to and from Mae Hensley Junior High School and Caswell Elementary.

The work underway is part of a $361,397 contract awarded to Viking General Contractors of Atwater.

Assistant City Engineer Leisser Mazariegos said the improvements include curb ramps that accommodate wheelchair and disabled students, storm drainage improvements where puddling has been a problem for pedestrians, and crosswalk and pavement improvements. She said the intent of the grant is to make the students' walk a safer and more pleasant experience.

Intersections will be given "piano key" striping which has an effect of cautioning and slowing down drivers. Crosswalks will also be installed with pavement embedded flashing lights that can be triggered by students wanting to cross. New lighted crosswalk will be installed at Academy Way and Central Avenue and at Glenda Way and Central Avenue.

The intersection of Sequoia Street and Central Avenue will see some significant upgrades with the removal of existing pavement and the installation of stamped colored concrete. Mazariegos said it too will have enhance the walking experience for kids and impress on drivers that the area is populated with pedestrians.

The city has also applied for and received a federal Safe Route to School grant to make similar improvements along the Moffet, Garrison, Fowler and Rose corridor around Smyrna Park. The $484,000 project is being designed with plans to start construction in late summer or early fall.