The Community Development Block Grant Program supports community development activities to help build stronger and more resilient communities across the country. Activities may address needs such as economic development or infrastructure projects, public facilities installation, community centers, housing rehabilitation, public services and a variety of others.
The City of Long Beach was awarded funding, approximately $325 thousand, from the grant late last year to increase pedestrian and vehicle safety around the transit hub, which is essentially around the railroad and City Hall. One of the projects was to install a decorative crosswalk with interpretive signage there, because it was “an unsafe area and people were pretty much in no man’s land when walking across the street over there,” Public Works Commissioner Joe Febrizio said.
The crosswalk and signs, which are on Centre Street, are placed right before where the buses turn into the garage, just past Bank of America.
“We put into decorative crosswalk which is nicer,” Febrizio said. “We also installed ADA-accessible ramps and new walk signs.” There are also buttons next to the crosswalk that, when pressed, flash lights to alert bus drivers and others that someone is crossing.”
The upgrade is one of three made from the grant. The city also upgraded the crosswalks and signage at two other locations – the intersection of Pine Street and Reverend JJ Evans Boulevard and the intersection of Fourth Street and Reverend JJ Evans Boulevard.
The city chose the area of Pine Street and Reverend JJ Evans Boulevard because “it’s really heavily utilized” by the Long Beach Full Year Head Start Center, and there is a park there they use, the Leroy Conyers Park. The center is used by low-income families as a way to promote the development of their children.
“Even during just recess, there are many children that basically go from that Head Start Program to that park,” Febrizio said. “The other one is right by the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, so that’s a natural fit since it’s always busy.”
Febrizio said he and the city had other potential placements and ideas and hired a consultant to go through each option. Other options included a new crosswalk on National Boulevard, one block over, by Starbucks. John McNally, the city spokesman, said the city might do more things down the road. These include potential new art and murals across the city and more upgraded and safer crosswalks, like where the taxi stand is next to the train station, among others.
Febrizio said regardless of what has happened already or what may in the future, “the city is really committed to vehicular, pedestrian safety.”