February 27: Kern County Road Department Director, Pat Ebel was the featured guest at the Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Mariah Inn in Mojave. Ms. Ebel updated the Chamber on the progress her department is making in cross-walk consolidation and upgrades in response to the tragic death of 16 year old Raven Knight last November while crossing highway 58 on her way to school. The new safety device will include three crossing signs with rapid fire beacons located on the north side, south side, and center median of the the highway. The project will also include a raised median in the center of the road in order to warn drivers and slow traffic. The project should commence “within four weeks”, according to Ms. Ebel during the Chamber lunch.
Ms. Ebel also indicated that the County will eliminate the crosswalk where Ms. Night was killed, in order to funnel pedestrian traffic to the crosswalk just west of The Desert Inn on Highway 58, closer to the school. There is currently no walkway from Mojave Gardens across The Desert Inn, but Ms. Ebel said the County would eventually construct a sidewalk there, but did not provide a time frame. The roads department will also consider upgrading the chain link fence to a block wall in order to provide added protection between pedestrians and vehicles on Highway 58.
The Mojave Foundation appreciates Ms. Ebel coming to Mojave to update the community on the progress, and hope we can work together to resolve many of the chronic safety issues in the community. There were three pedestrians killed in Mojave in the month of November, all due to visibility issues of one kind or another. We appreciate the work that has been done to address the crosswalk on Highway 58, however we feel that this tragedy only shines light on a systemic problem that includes lack of adequate street lighting, poor signage, and excessive vehicle speed in residential areas. We will continue to address these issues with the county and look for alternative ways to make our streets safer immediately.