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