City and Caltrans Wrestle with the Chautauqua, PCH and West Channel Road Intersection  

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West Channel Road feeds onto westbound PCH and also onto northbound Chautauqua.

A reader wrote, “Would it be possible to update us on the paving situation on West Channel Road and the lack of paving for those of us who drive up into the Palisades…It’s a joke…not completed and has been a mess since early July.”

Resident Lou Kamer, who has been working with the City to improve the PCH/Chautauqua/West Channel Road intersection since 2016, told CTN: “The City began the repaving project on both directions of West Channel from Ocean to PCH, but stopped after completing the subsurface layer, leaving a rough, unmarked roadway.”

On August 12, the PCH Task Force discussed the issues surrounding this troublesome intersection. There are two City roads, side by side, that feed into PCH, which is under Caltrans jurisdiction.

People turning onto PCH from Chautauqua are routinely in the wrong lane (the left lane), either by accident or because they know they can cut ahead of drivers in the longer right lane waiting to turn onto PCH.

Bollards were discussed for both roads at the PCH meeting. A Caltrans representative said that creating a wider buffer between the two downhill lanes on Chautauqua, leading into PCH (in order to install bollards to prevent people from crossing over from the left lane) would create substandard lane widths, and that Caltrans designers were studying this suggested change.

At that meeting, it was noted that before the City could finish the West Channel project, they would need a permit from Caltrans. Councilmember Mike Bonin’s Transportation Deputy Eric Bruins said that the City and Caltrans were at an impasse. A permit request had not yet been filed by the L.A. City Department of Transportation, which was seeking reassurance that the Caltrans permit would be approved before they file.

This week, CTN contacted Bruins and Caltrans to see if there was any progress since the August meeting.

Caltrans spokesperson Abdolhossein Saghafi responded on September 14. “Caltrans has received the permit application from the City,” Saghafi said. “Caltrans has reviewed and has asked for additional information (on September 10). We are awaiting additional information from the City.”

Bruins also responded on September 14. “StreetsLA submitted a permit application to Caltrans. Caltrans returned the application with comments. The City is now working to resolve those comments before resubmitting the application. I have not seen those comments, so I can’t speak to how substantive they were, but I am confident that StreetsLA will be able to address them within a day or two. Caltrans would then need to issue the actual permit before work can resume.

“Our office is focused on resolving the permitting issue ASAP, but we will debrief with StreetsLA after the work is complete to make sure that this breakdown never happens again,” Bruins said. “The situation being experienced on the ground is unacceptable.”

CTN asked Saghafi in a follow-up email why the City would need a permit to pave a City street, such as West Channel Road. He replied on September 16, “I am not sure. I am guessing because there is access to a State highway. It’s in process.”

Kamer said, “The City began the resurfacing process without getting the necessary approval for the Caltrans variance permit, which is required when engineering designs don’t meet published standards. Unfortunately, getting things done and coordinating work where LADOT and Caltrans borders meet has always been hard and lately has been complicated further by Covid. Think about Sunset and the 405.”

He added “Perhaps one way to avoid problems and delays would be to assign a local community representative to act as a bridge between all parties, foster transparent communication all around (including with the public), and check that the proposed solutions are backed by data and will be most effective at saving lives, time, and money. We are all after the same goal.”

Cars on Chautauqua turn onto Pacific Coast Highway onto West Channel Road.

 

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3 Responses to City and Caltrans Wrestle with the Chautauqua, PCH and West Channel Road Intersection  

  1. Viana says:

    Wow, what a mess.
    Slightly changing the subject…up the road to Temescal and PCH. It seems like it’s time to add a third left turn lane from Temescal to the highway. Just make the third lane both turn left or go straight (into the beach parking lot). When traffic is bad, lots of people just do this anyway, creating a road-rage situation. Why not just make it legal? Probably have to deal with the LA City vs Caltrans headache here, too, but it can’t be that hard. Change the sign, and maybe some pavement striping?

  2. Sue says:

    Hi,

    CTN has asked Caltrans for years to take a look at that intersection. It is absolutely a nightmare, particularly at the start of the PaliHi School day and when school lets out. Caltrans has said there isn’t a wide enough turn radius to make it legal. CTN has pointed out that at Sunset and PCH, people can turn from three lanes and onto PCH, which instantly turns into two lanes. Why can they do it there and not at Temescal?

    Maybe its time that the Pacific Palisades Community Council pressed for another left turn lane–or at least have someone at Caltrans look at the light. Traffic is often backed up halfway into the canyon.

    (And yes, I always feel my blood boiling when I’ve sat in a lane waiting and people zoom on the other side of me and make the “illegal” turn.)

    Sue

  3. Viana says:

    Thank you, Sue. Frustrating. The turning radius isn’t wide enough, but hundreds of people every day make that illegal turn anyway! I understand that Caltrans probably has state laws to follow and in those laws there are certain numbers that correspond to the wideness of the radius of the turn. Ugh. Maybe a compromise could be lengthening the amount of time the light stays green at peak traffic times of the day? A lot of people will still go left in the third lane when the traffic is backed up but at least it could help a little bit, right?
    And as long as I’m going on about this, maybe more kids could carpool and take public transportation, so the traffic isn’t so bad when the school gets out? When I went to Pali, a hundred years ago, it wasn’t like this.

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