PCH Task Force Addresses McClure Tunnel, Potrero and PCH/Chautauqua Intersection

McClure Tunnel upgrades should be completed by spring 2022.


Caltrans representative Agdolhossein Sagahafi (Abdi) reported on several issues related to Pacific Palisades at PCH Task Force quarterly Zoom meeting on August 12.

Updating the McClure Tunnel Queue Warning Project, Abdi said: “The McClure Tunnel is in progress, it seems like it is going smoothly. Completion is scheduled for spring 2022.”

The $6.3-million project will improve visibility inside the tunnel by upgrading the lighting system with LED lights. A queue warning system is being installed, and the tunnel painted.

The McClure Tunnel in Santa Monica, built in 1935, has been closed for safety upgrades on weeknights, Monday through Friday, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. since January.

Regarding proposed improvements at PCH and Chautauqua, Abdi said, “We have hit kind of a snag,” when asked by Pacific Palisades Community Council Representatives Rob Weber and Patti Post about a timeline. “It is a request to narrow a lane and I don’t have an update.”

According to Councilman Mike Bonin’s Transportation Deputy Eric Bruins, “The sticking point is the city has proposed a narrow buffer between the two lanes” [on the downhill side of Chautauqua. One lane turns onto PCH, the second lane turns onto West Channel Road. Unfortunately, the lane that turns onto PCH (in both directions) often backs up for blocks, tempting many motorists to go into the Channel Road lane and then at the last minute pull in front of cars turning south onto PCH.] This causes people waiting patiently in the correct lane to miss the signal.

Creating a wider buffer between the two lanes (in order to install bollards to prevent people from crossing over from the left lane) would create substandard lane widths, Abdi said, but that Caltrans designers are studying this suggested change. He added, “ADA access has come up, so now it’s more complicated.”

Post and Weber once again asked for a timeline. Bruins said that the city and Caltrans are at an impasse, but “the city is not prepared to look at other alternatives.”

A permit request has not yet been filed by the L.A. Department of Transportation, which is seeking reassurance that the Caltrans permit will be approved before they file.

Additionally, with a pedestrian bridge over PCH now being funded for the George Wolfberg Park at Potrero (a half-mile north of Chautauqua), Weber said, “We’re absolutely thrilled. We’re interested in getting the project started.”

Landscaping started in Portrero Canyon on July 12 and is expected to take about 10 months.

Currently, a dirt trail is proposed from Potrero to Temescal Canyon Road to allow hikers/beachgoers to safely cross PCH until the bridge is completed. That trail would be on Caltrans property.

“We have made [trail] progress,” Abdi said. “The area that is in question is used by Caltrans for maintenance equipment.” He said that Caltrans is speaking to the city and “they are willing to swap some lands.”

Pedro Garcia said that the City will ask for encroachment, because otherwise trail construction could take six months to a year.

“I can push for encroachment,” Abdi said.

Weber asked who would be engineering the Potrero Bridge. Abdi responded that according to timelines and cost oversight, engineering would be better handled by the City/County. “The project oversight would be done by our folks,” he said.

Residents were urged to visit the PCH Facebook page, which is once more operational and being updated.

The PCH Task Force serves an important role by bringing together representatives of three politicians (Assemblyman Richard Bloom and State Senators Ben Allen and Henry Stern; three cities (L.A., Santa Monica and Malibu) and their law enforcement entities, plus the California Highway Patrol.

Task Force members are especially focused on activities and concerns related to the 10 miles of Pacific Coast Highway from the McClure Tunnel to the Malibu Pier.

The PCH Task Force was formed in 2000 by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, who is now an L.A. County Supervisor. Visit: Facebook Pacific Coast Highway Taskforce

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