PITTSBURG -- The city has received a $450,000 grant to make a busy downtown street safer for children to walk to school and a community park.

Pittsburg will use the California Department of Transportation grant to extend curbs at five intersections along Herb White Way between Fifth Street and Marina Boulevard.

The extended curbs will force traffic toward the middle of the street and cause drivers to slow down, said city traffic engineer Paul Reinders.

The extensions also shorten the length of crosswalks, allowing pedestrians to cross streets with less exposure to oncoming traffic.

The city will install a traffic roundabout in the intersection of Herb White Way and Eighth Street and ground-level crosswalk lights in the five intersections between 10th Street and Marina Boulevard, he said.

The changes will make it safer for children walking to Marina Vista Elementary School in Pittsburg's Old Town and St. Peter Martyr Elementary School and adjacent Marina Park, west of Herb White Way, Reinders said.

"It is one of the routes for kids coming from the harbor area," Reinders said. "We've had complaints about traffic speed and drivers doing doughnuts at intersections, and we're trying to address all these complaints."

The city will develop a design over the next year and begin construction in spring 2012, he said.

The project will take about three months to complete.

Marina Vista Principal Lynne Plunkett wrote a letter in support of the grant application under Caltrans' $24 million Safe Routes to School program.

"Cars can and do drive very fast (along Herb White Way), and that poses a threat to our children," she said. "Some of our children walk to school along that route, so it is something that I thought would be a good idea."

Pittsburg was among 85 communities out of 400 applicants statewide to receive a Safe Routes to School grant.

The city will add $100,000 in regional transportation money to the grant, Reinders said.

California was the first state to begin a Safe Routes to School program in 1999.

The state has awarded $268 million under the program.

Contact Rick Radin at 925-779-7166.