Valley town hopes 'broken heart' crosswalk will save lives

10:45 PM, Jun 29, 2012   |    comments
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GUSTINE, CA - One small town tragedy inspired a local man's mission to make a dangerous crosswalk safer-- and he had to cut through a lot of red tape to do it.

Longtime Gustine resident Leonard Holmquist was deeply moved by death of a 6-year-old girl in a crosswalk in front of her school on busy Highway 33 in 2005.

He wanted to paint a broken heart in the crosswalk like one he'd seen in Oregon to show careless drivers what had happened there.

"When he first came to the council about it, it was just a dream," said Gustine Mayor Dennis Brazil.  "And once he knew he had the support of the city of Gustine, that's when it really started moving."

The main road through Gustine is a state highway, after all, and it took two years to get through channels at Caltrans.

But the permit was finally granted, and the broken heart crosswalk was dedicated in the fall of 2009.

Once or twice a year as needed, the city of Gustine repaints the broken heart to Caltrans specifications.

A city crew was out early Friday morning applying new non-skid red paint through the well-used broken heart stencil.

Holmquist would like to see other communities do the same thing in busy crosswalks that threaten their children.

"I don't care if anyone remembers me," Holmquist said.  "This is a safety reminder that some family got their heart broken here."

by George Warren,


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