Accident on PCH Causes Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic in Palisades

The driver of the truck swerved to avoid a pedestrian and crashed the truck, closing southbound PCH.

Shortly after 4:30 a.m. on August 29, a semi-truck was traveling south on PCH. According to one report, the driver swerved to avoid a pedestrian in the roadway. That caused the driver to lose control of the truck, which had two double drum road rollers (to compact the ground at construction sites) on a flatbed. According to bystanders, the driver stayed onsite during the investigation.

At that location, on northbound PCH, is a 10-foot Caltrans wall. Behind the wall is a known camping area for transients. In a February 2023 story (“Fire Issues on the Strip of Land behind the Wall on PCH”), CTN wrote, “Another safety issue is people darting across six lanes of traffic to reach Will Rogers State Beach and its bathrooms.”

Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the accident. There were no injuries, but the big rig had blown a tire and damaged the guard rail.  Diesel fuel had leaked onto the road. A hazmat team was called.

Southbound lanes were closed at Chautauqua, because the truck extended across all three lanes. That meant that PCH had to be closed at Temescal, and all traffic was routed north on that road to Sunset Boulevard.

Around 9:15 a.m., northbound PCH was also closed, and traffic also detoured up Chautauqua, to Sunset Boulevard.

By 10 a.m., a reader reported that Lachman Lane in the Marquez Knolls area was bumper to bumper, and that was because traffic was gridlock on Sunset.

With no access to PCH via Temescal, the main way out of town was to travel eastbound on Sunset.

Eventually both lanes of PCH were closed to traffic.

Chautauqua, which also goes to PCH, was backed up to Sunset. Many people said they sat in traffic for two hours or more before turning around and trying to make their way back to their residences.

Resident Lou Kamer, who serves as the transportation advisor for the Pacific Palisades Community Council, wrote in a noon email to Councilmember Traci Park’s office, yesterday.

“We had a semi-truck crash on southbound PCH at Chautauqua this morning,” Kamer said. “All surface streets in Pacific Palisades are at a standstill. Can you get in touch with ATSAC (Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control Center) and see if they know about the incident and if they can change signal timing [at Chautauqua] to expedite this traffic?”

Once the hazmat situation was dealt with on PCH, Caltrans was able to fix the guard rail. The two roller vehicles were unloaded from the flatbed of the truck and taken away. Then the cab of the truck and the flatbed could also be removed from the scene. North and south-bound lanes were reopened at 3:57 p.m.

CTN spoke to Caltrans spokesperson Mike Comeaux, who said that Caltrans does not do investigations of accidents, but “always works cooperatively with whoever has jurisdiction.”

In this case, that section of the road is under the Los Angeles Police Department of Transportation.

All alerts would have come from LADOT, which would have taken the lead in this particular incident. “Caltrans always want to be cooperative with the lead agency,” Comeaux said.

He was asked why there wasn’t notification to residents. Comeaux said that would have to come through the lead agency, LADOT.

CTN reached out to LAPD’s West L.A. Commander Captain Richard Gabaldon in the afternoon on August 30.

The Captain was asked what time LAPD responded to the traffic and what time DOT was called. He said he would investigate. When CTN receives his response, the story will be updated.

This incident once again pointed to the inadequacy of how Pacific Palisades residents are notified when there is a major incident; and how to evacuate the town.

Kamer noted that when there are multiple agencies, “We need coordination and efficiency, especially in an emergency.”

By 11 a.m. on Tuesday, cars were already beginning to back up both directions on Sunset Boulevard.

(Editor’s note: Caltrans does have an app – Quick Map – that generally shows road closures, or click here.)

Many transients have lived behind the wall along PCH at Chautauqua, which is across from Will Rogers Beach.

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3 Responses to Accident on PCH Causes Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic in Palisades

  1. Gary Rubenstein says:

    Excellent reporting – thank you. It was almost impossible to find out what was happening to inconvenience all of us in the Palisades. Where was the local news? The first thing I thought of why we were all kept in the dark until late in the day. Couldn’t there have been some LAPD directing traffic to mitigate the congestion? It was bad enough for those of us trying to get to work but what about parents trying to get their kids to school, or someone needing medical attention, or even someone trying to get to LAX. There is so much blame to go around not to mention the individual crossing PCH in the wee hours of the morning. It is surely a lesson to be learned that we are not prepared for an emergency evacuation!

  2. Marci Crestani says:

    This latest Sunset gridlock reminded me once again why it helps to listen to KNX 1070 in the morning if you need to travel out of the Palisades. They began reporting on this incident after 6 a.m. Tuesday morning and included it thereafter in their every-ten-minutes traffic reports.

  3. Don Treiman says:

    Gary, agree 100%.Thanks for your comment.

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