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Students jumping barricades to cross traffic en route to school

By KBell
Sept. 6, 2010 at 4:06 a.m.

Victoria East students use the hike and bike trail leading to John Stockbauer Drive after a day of classes. Barricades have been put in place to prevent pedestrians from crossing the street.

When school let out Friday, Victoria East High students were anxious to start their holiday weekend.

Dozens of them were so eager to get home, they risked running across mid-afternoon traffic on John Stockbauer Drive just to cut off a few minutes from their commute.

Pedro Garcia and Marcus Perez, both 17, said they do it every day.

"It's too far to walk all the way back (to the stoplight on Mockingbird Lane)," Pedro said.

On a rainy Friday afternoon, many students were jumping the barricades on the Lone Tree Creek Hike and Bike Trail that dead-ends at John Stockbauer Drive.

Marcus estimated walking to a stoplight to cross the four-lane road would add an extra 10 minutes to his already 15-minute commute.

"And I'm getting soaked," he said, ducking for cover from the rain in a nearby carwash.

Last October, the city closed the trail at John Stockbauer Drive with barricades after safety issues developed with trail users crossing at the busy intersection.

One child was struck by a car at that intersection.

The city was studying other options and now plans to re-route the trail.

Marcus almost got hit by a Suburban while crossing the road Thursday, but even that didn't scare him into traveling a block to the Mockingbird light, he said.

"It's brutal in the morning. If you're tardy one time, they give you ISS," Pedro explained about why he chooses to brave Stockbauer.

As Marcus and Pedro successfully ran across the highway with three girls, siblings Adriana Medina, 15, and Gabriel Vasquez, 16, were waiting to cross at the barricades.

Gabriel said their commute is 40 minutes, but they still live too close to the school to be on a bus route.

"We leave at 7:45 at the latest," Gabriel said of their morning routine. "And we get to school right when the bell rings," at 8:30 a.m.

Most students travel down Leary Lane, Adriana said. Leary Lane is almost directly across from the hiking trail, which makes traveling to the stoplight all the more inconvenient.

"There's no sidewalks on Leary either," Adriana said. "So you're either in the mud or cars have to slow down."

City Engineer Kenneth Gill said one resident has called him about the students crossing on John Stockbauer.

He said the city has been planning a re-route of the trail and has selected a contractor.

Work on the new trail should begin within a few months, Gill said.

In the meantime, he said students should make the effort to cross at stoplights either at Ben Jordan Street or Mockingbird Lane.

"It's illegal to use that crosswalk now," he said.

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