Officials Disclose Several Upcoming Projects
City leaders and law enforcement officials from Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Malibu and L.A. County all have one thing in common—they share jurisdiction over various parts of Pacific Coast Highway.They also share one another’s troubles. For example, a traffic accident in Santa Monica can impact Malibu commuters, and a closure in Pacific Palisades can affect both cities.
In order to work on joint challenges, a PCH Task Force meets quarterly, bringing together various governmental, traffic, law enforcement and fire officials. The group met March 6 at the Malibu City Library.
Maybe they should meet more often.
Some residents will remember the PCH closure on February 13, near the California Incline, when an allegedly impaired driver sheered off two fire hydrants along the roadway at about 3 a.m. Two geysers shot into the sky and made the road impassable. Reportedly, officials had trouble shutting off the water.
According to a L.A. County Water representative at the PCH meeting, someone at that agency saw the two geysers on television news around 6 a.m. Turns out the hydrants were air-relief valves connected to the 30″ L.A. County pipe that goes under PCH. The County was never notified by Santa Monica authorities.
Once they realized it was their line, L.A. County sent someone out immediately, and the problem was taken care of instantly.
Road Closure Alert: The County Water representative said that northbound PCH, from Chautauqua to Temescal, will soon be closed in order to move the water line. The 1958 Pacific Palisades “killer” slide resulted in PCH being moved closer to the ocean, but the water main was not moved. Now the pipe will be moved. The roadway will be closed at night and dates will be announced.
* Santa Monica will start construction to widen the bikes/pedestrian lanes on the Marvin Braude Bike Trail in July. The project will extend from Ocean Front Walk to the Santa Monica city limit near West Channel Road. The two-mile project is going out to bid and before the Coastal Commission. Construction is supposed to take about a year. (Visit: santamonicaparks.org and click on North Beach for updates.)
* Caltrans District 7 representative Abdolhossein Saghafi warned that the $8.5 million project design for McClure Tunnel will start this fall and take two years. The Vapor lights will be replaced, the interior painted, and a queue warning system installed.
Task Force members pleaded for the tunnel work to take place at night. “Normally on PCH, we try to do most of the construction at night,” Saghafi said.
A Malibu Sheriff’s officer said, “The McClure Tunnel was key in the evacuation of the Woolsey Fire, so keep us updated.”
Saghafi replied, “As soon as we know, we’ll let people know.”
* In the summer, drivers coming north through the tunnel find themselves stopped as many cars queue up in the far left lane to go into Santa Monica Beach parking lot #3.
Saghafi said that two suggestions are being studied. One would involve having southbound PCH traffic stopped more often by a red light at the Incline so that cars turning left into the parking lot would face longer gaps in traffic. The second would be to move the pay parking kiosk deeper into the parking lots, so that more cars would be able to enter the lot, when there is an opportunity.
He also said that a traffic study has been proposed for Chautauqua and PCH, but “we’re at a standstill because the budget doesn’t have sufficient money for a traffic study.”
* Topanga Canyon Boulevard “has been closed three times in the past two months and we have installed k-rails and netting which has helped,” Saghafi said, noting that the roadway will continue to have closures for slope stabilization, which is considered an emergency project. There will be full lane closures from 12 to 5 a.m. and partial lane closures from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, as soon as Caltrans receives the final environmental review.
* Videos of trucks, buses and even a City bus making a left-turn onto Pacific Coast Highway from the third lane on Temescal Canyon Road were shown to Saghafi. He was once again asked why the arrow for that lane couldn’t include a turn and a straight-ahead sign. He said he would look into it.
* More than once, legislators were asked about the RV’s that line the highway between Coastline and Malibu. Dumping waste, which then runs into the ocean, was expressed as an environmental concern. The use of fires outside campers, at the base of brush-covered hillsides, was a fire concern, and people from the trailers being struck by cars were safety concerns.
The task force was formed by Sheila Kuehl, when she was a State Senator, to address the various problems along the roadway. Senators Henry Stern and Ben Allen, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, and County Supervisor Kuehl send representatives to the task force meetings.