Danville Express

Living - May 18, 2007

Stop! Children crossing

Guards pull tough duty at busiest intersection in town

by Jordan M. Doronila

It's a red light. Stop the traffic!

Julie Silva walks forward, raises her sign, and tells the kids they can now cross the street.

For the past five years, Silva has helped children navigate the hordes of cars zipping through the intersection at Diablo and Green Valley roads in Danville. As a crossing guard she watches over 700 kids, who mostly attend Green Valley Elementary and Los Cerros Middle schools.

Administrators, teachers and parents from Green Valley said she is doing a marvelous job.

"I would say I encourage students to go down to Miss Julie," said Green Valley physical education instructor Lynne Frey. "I know she's going to watch out for them."

"Julie is very logical," Frey added. "She does a wonderful job. She's just a positive fixture in our school. She knows all the kids."

Silva said the traffic is heavy at the intersection. Much of it comes from the schools and commuters heading to work. The peak hours are 7:30 to 8:30 in the morning, and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

"Each year it's a little worse," Silva said. "I don't see a solution."

She said some drivers are unaware of their surroundings at times.

"They are not paying attention," she said, adding most of the drivers are cooperative. "They look to the left but they are just not looking."

Staff members from the Town of Danville said they have been making every effort to improve conditions at the Diablo and Green Valley intersection for the past 20 years.

Engineers have fine-tuned the traffic light's signaling at the intersection and have done extensive studies regarding the right turn in that area, said Town Manager Joe Calabrigo.

"It's a very congested intersection," said Calabrigo. "We are doing the best we can."

Davidon Homes will construct a road connecting Blemer Road and Matadera Way on the new development that was recently approved, which will help alleviate the traffic, staff said.

Tai Williams, town transportation services director, said Measure J, a sales tax to fund transportation improvements in the San Ramon Valley, may help supplement busing in the community.

Nonetheless, solutions are limited.

"We have really tweaked those signals as much as we can tweak them," Williams said.

Despite intense traffic, Silva carries on her duties to protect pedestrians.

"It's difficult making sure cars stop," she said, before she can let the children leave the curb.

She said when it's raining it can be an intense experience.

Silva was born and raised in Danville. She noted there weren't as many homes then, and she used to ride a school bus in her youth. She attended Green Valley Elementary and Los Cerros Middle School, then went to Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton.

After graduating high school, she worked for six years as a clerk at Conaga Foods in the shipping and receiving department during the 1980s.

"It was fun," she said.

She ended up 11 years ago working in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District because her younger brother worked at the Los Cerros Middle School campus. She started working in the food service program.

Later on, district officials were looking for crossing guards. She accepted the job offer five years ago and said the benefits - medical and dental - attracted her to the position.

"They still have problems getting people," Silva said. "The job has split hours."

Silva said she likes being a crossing guard.

"It's not that nervewracking," she said. "The parents are wonderful."

"I like being around children," she added. "Kids make me laugh."

Silva likes waterskiing and used to enjoy it in the Delta, she said. She also rides motorized bikes, and likes to go fishing and explore the desert.

She hopes the public becomes aware of the potentially hazardous intersection and exercises caution in the area.

"I just want the public to be aware of that surrounding," Silva said.

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