City seeks bids to install traffic signs

The City Council will consider Monday whether to approve using monies from its General Fund to help pay for the installation of six speed advisory signs.

By Laura Tate / Editor / Associate Publisher

The Public Works Commission is seeking bids to install six speed advisory signs on Pacific Coast Highway. This follows several years of local efforts to have the signs installed.

The signs, called V-Calm or Vehicle Calming Signs, would be installed at six different locations on the highway throughout the city of Malibu and would be solar powered.

Public Safety Planning Commissioner Carol Randall conducted a campaign that led to the approval of the signs four and a half years ago, however, red tape and lack of funding have held up installation of the signs. Randall’s son-in-law, Mark Osborne, was killed by a speeding driver while hosing off the family’s driveway on Pacific Coast Highway.

The federal government slated $150,000 to purchase and install the signs, but because of a bureaucratic process requiring several steps in processing the funding and installation, the project has been delayed.

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The City Council on Monday will consider a resolution to front the funds and recoup its money at a later date. Monies would be taken from the General Fund so the sign project can be completed sooner. The staff recommendation is to approve the use of the General Funds to replace the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century funds.

The city had installed and tested one of six signs it purchased in 2004 at Pacific Coast Highway near Topanga Canyon Boulevard, but Caltrans had it removed because it did not adhere to the state transportation agency’s specifications.

The Speed Advisory Signs are but one of a few promised traffic safety projects that have been proposed for the city following fatal accidents.

In March of last year, the PCH Safety Taskforce Committee, led by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, had said that 26 “Share the Road” signs would be installed along the highway from Santa Monica to Point Mugu. The signs would remind drivers that bicyclists have a legal right to use the roadways. The reorganization of the PCH Safety Taskforce Committee and the proposal of the signs came after the deaths of two bicyclists who were hit by a catering truck while riding on Pacific Coast Highway in the fall of 2005. Scott Bleifer, 41, of Santa Monica, and Stanislav Ionav, 46, of Calabasas, were hit after they rode their bikes into the traffic lanes, trying to avoid construction barriers that blocked the shoulder of the highway.

Bicyclists are allowed by law to use a traffic lane as long as they keep as far to the right as possible.

Granville “Bow” Bowman, Malibu’s special projects engineer, said the Share the Road signs have been discussed and negotiations are taking place among bicyclists, Caltrans and the city on wording for the signs.

Another safety sore spot for some residents is the long awaited and contentious proposed installation of a traffic signal at Corral Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway, which has been the site of many accidents.

The Caltrans approval process has also held up this project.

In March of last year, city officials said they expected from Caltrans the approval of design plans for the traffic signal by May 2006. In September, Bowman said it was “a Caltrans situation” and that the agency did not have the funding for design and installation of the light. He said that’s why the city undertook funding the design process and had presented several alternatives to Caltrans.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Bowman confirmed that Caltrans had approved a concept design for the signal, and it had received approval from several environmental agencies, as well. Bowman said he notified an engineer on Tuesday to begin with a final design, which he said he hopes to have finished by May. That’s not the last step, however. Caltrans must then approve the final design.

“We’re pushing [the project],” Bowman said, “and sometimes it feels like we’re pushing on a string.”

The project is estimated to cost in the mid $300,000s. Caltrans gave the city $120,000 and Congressman Brad Sherman helped fund $220,000 toward the project.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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