Task force at work on PCH safety


Following years of traffic injuries and violent deaths on Pacific Coast Highway, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, whose district includes Malibu, has pulled together several organizations to solve the problem.

Special task force committees organized this fall to identify and solve traffic control and safety issues along Pacific Coast Highway are reportedly making headway with active representation among the various organizations and law enforcement agencies charged with supervising the highway.

Kuehl, who called for the task force nearly a year ago said, “I was pleased at how enthusiastic the whole panoply of participants was to join and stay in the process. There were so many disparate concerns. Everyone was so willing to find the points of agreement and just begin to solve the problems that I have great hope for cooperation in the future.”

Primarily, the committees are attempting to create a memorandum of understanding among the local, county, and state law enforcement officials, Caltrans and a variety of groups concerned with safety and traffic issues. There have been a series of meetings with the next one planned for early next year to deal with jurisdiction assignments covering everything from signage to traffic signals. Among the considerations are whether to put medians along portions of the highway to prevent head-on collisions, changeable signage to warn people of PCH road closings in advance and determining a priority of assignments for prompt repair of traffic signals.

Kuehl said the difference motorists will be able to detect from the task force effort will be noticeable more in the form of preventive measures. “The difference will be seen in how decisions are made by the various authorities in terms of whether we need more signals, more signage, safety rails and turn lanes.” According to Kuehl, “As drivers on the highway we really don’t notice these things, but I think they go a long way toward easing traffic congestion and making the road safe.”

The task force intends to be in place for several years, according to Kuehl, noting its plan to focus long-term on geological issues facing PCH. “Over the next 50 years, Mother Nature will not leave us alone,” Kuehl said. “She’ll batter us from the seaside and crumble from the mountainside, and we’ll have our hands full keeping the highway open.” Kuehl said she is pleased the task force will be in place to treat these matters from a position of maintenance rather than a state of emergency.