Santa Monica Working To Improve PCH

May 9, 2024 ·

The city of Santa Monica is aiming to improve safety on Pacific Coast Highway. Photo courtesy of Thomas Ciszewski via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On May 8, the California Office of Traffic Safety announced a press release regarding new plans for safety for Pacific Coast Highway.

The new “Go Safely PCH” campaign and detail the ongoing efforts to make the corridor safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The goal is to deliver roadway improvements, increased enforcement to deter speeding and safety education for residents and visitors. “Go Safely PCH” is a commitment to keeping everyone headed to Malibu’s beach, shops or restaurants safe.

“Go Safely PCH is more than a campaign – it’s a movement demonstrating our collective commitment to making this beautiful corridor safer for everyone who travels on it,” said Secretary Omishakin. “Through infrastructure improvements, increased enforcement and drivers doing their part by slowing down, we can and will save lives. I thank all our partners for coming together to say in a strong, unified voice: One more life lost is one too many.”

Since 2010, 59 people have been killed on the 21-mile stretch of PCH in Malibu, including the deaths of four Pepperdine University students who were struck and killed by a speeding driver in October 2023. Every day, an average of 12 people are killed on California roads. California’s goal is to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2050.

“Death and danger along PCH are unacceptable; we can’t wait to change the status quo. Now is the time for close coordination and meaningful action,” said Lindsey P. Horvath, Chair, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “While we advance important infrastructure and legislative changes for a safer PCH, education is essential. As summer approaches and Malibu prepares to welcome beachgoers and visitors, the ‘Go Safely PCH’ campaign will foster a safer scenic roadway for the Malibu community and all who enjoy our gorgeous coastline.”

The new education campaign is informing drivers of the increased law enforcement presence and reminding them to slow down on PCH or face consequences. The messages are being shared on billboards, lawn and beach signs, flyers, posters and on social media. Residents of California are encouraged to take a traffic safety pledge and commit to practicing safe driving behaviors when visiting beaches, parks, shops and restaurants along PCH.

“The ‘Go Safely PCH’ campaign is about establishing a strong road safety culture that no longer accepts the death and destruction on PCH,” said OTS Director Barbara Rooney. “We encourage everyone to make a commitment to safe driving on PCH. The beach will still be there when you get there. If you ever feel the need to speed, think of the 59 victims and how your responsible actions behind the wheel will help make sure there are no more deaths and senseless tragedies on PCH.”

Starting in January, the city of Malibu added three full-time California Highway Patrol officers to help the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) with traffic enforcement on PCH in Malibu for the first time since 1991. The support from CHP officers resulted in more than 1,200 citations through April, more than 1,000 of which were for speeding.

In addition, the OTS provided approximately $555,000 in additional funding to the LASD, Los Angeles Police Department and Santa Monica Police Department for increased enforcement on PCH.

“The California Highway Patrol is committed to working with our traffic safety partners to enhance the safety of Pacific Coast Highway for all travelers,” said Commissioner Sean Duryee. “By combining engineering enhancements, educational campaigns, and rigorous enforcement efforts, we not only improve conditions on the highway but also save lives along the way.”

Caltrans is investing $4.2 million for multiple safety upgrades to PCH infrastructure, including lane separators to prevent vehicles from drifting into oncoming traffic or making illegal turns, crosswalk striping at all locations for increased visibility for drivers and pedestrians, more visible road striping, speed limit markings on the road, as well as more speed limit and curve warning signs.

Caltrans has also installed optical speed bars, which are stripes spaced at decreasing distances that make drivers aware of their speed and prompt them to slow down, as well as 13 speed feedback signs. Additional proposed work includes pavement upgrades, new bike lanes and pedestrian access improvements from the McClure Tunnel in Santa Monica to the Ventura County line. A full list of current and planned updates for PCH Safety projects are on the Caltrans District 7 website.

The Malibu City Council declared a Local Emergency to address the dangers on PCH, which is visited by millions of people every year. Malibu has invested $39 million commitment on traffic safety improvement projects, and another $8 million dedicated to future PCH safety improvement projects.

“The epidemic of reckless driving is impacting communities across our country,” said Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring. “I am proud to be in California where we are taking proactive steps to address this issue. The problem will not be solved overnight, but this education program puts a major change agent in our toolbox. On behalf of all Malibu residents, I thank our state partner agencies for their leadership in providing solutions to this important problem.”

Between 2019 and 2023, five people were killed on PCH in Santa Monica, and more than 100 crashes resulted in injuries, including 12 serious injury crashes.

Santa Monica’s Local Roadway Safety Plan identifies PCH as a priority corridor for infrastructure safety improvements as part of the Caltrans PCH corridor study.

“We have seen far too many serious crashes on PCH, and it is absolutely heartbreaking that five people have lost their lives in Santa Monica’s section of the highway since 2019,” said Santa Monica Mayor Phil Brock. “Santa Monica is committed to making our roads safe for everyone. Since we don’t have jurisdiction over PCH, our partnership with the state and regional agencies is critical to our mission to eliminate fatal and severe injury crashes in Santa Monica through our Vision Zero initiative.”

The announcement of the Go Safely PCH campaign follows the work of the PCH Taskforce, a coalition of law enforcement, traffic engineers, Caltrans and local and state elected officials working to find solutions to make PCH safer.

For details on safety updates, campaign pledges and access to digital assets, visit GoSafelyPCH.org.

By Trevor

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