August 15: Almost 9 months after the tragic death of Mojave’s own Raven Night, Kern County broke ground on a cross walk across Hwy-58, linking the Mojave Gardens neighborhood with downtown Mojave and the school district. Kern County Roads is taking the lead on the project, in partnership with Southern California Edison (SCE). The project will include four flashing beacons – one on the south side of the highway, one on the north side, and two in the middle; and will include a curb ramp and pedestrian island for safety in the median.
Raven Night, 16, was killed by a vehicle on November 18th while crossing the Barstow Highway on foot on her way to school. Her death is a vivid reminder of the need to prioritize the health and safety of our children above all else. A memorial has remained in her memory along the fence at the site of the incident, and local residents have come out spontaneously to help walk children safely across the highway. The Mojave Foundation appreciates the recent upgrades to the crosswalk along Hwy-58, but we are adamantly focused on improving the pedestrian safety of our children throughout Mojave – to include sidewalks and streetlights throughout our downtown area. A complete overhaul of Mojave’s pedestrian safety infrastructure would be a fitting memorial to such an outstanding young lady.
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.