Construction dust causes anger to fly

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Malibu’s PCH repaving project is first of many expected to last through 2011.

By Vicky Shere / Special to the Malibu Times

The resurfacing of Pacific Coast Highway that began last month has already upset at least one motorist.

Century City resident Stewart Resmer complained of a “massive dust cloud” and a cracked windshield from a flying rock when he drove past Malibu Pier last week. In an e-mail to The Malibu Times, the Pacific Coast Highway commuter said he thought the City of Malibu should know about the hazard but was told by City Hall to call the California Department of Transportation.

“The city has no control over Pacific Coast Highway,” Malibu Public Works Superintendent Richard Calvin responded in a telephone call to the newspaper. “Caltrans will do all it can to keep construction at a workable level but grinding asphalt means dust.”

Resmer called Caltrans but they weren’t helpful.

“Caltrans just can’t stampede through a city,” the transportation specialist said. “The hazards should be mitigated.”

Thinking about the dust cloud, Resmer decided to ask the South Coast Air Quality Management District to intervene.

SCAQMD spokesman Sam Atwood confirmed that an inspector was sent to the site last week. The inspector did not witness any violation of the agency’s Rule 403 on fugitive dust, which calls for watering construction sites and adequate signage, Atwood said.

Controlling dust on a heavily traveled highway is a unique situation, Atwood added. The inspector saw many people speeding, so applying water would be a safety hazard. Caltrans was using street sweepers after the pavement was ground, Atwood reported. The SCAQMD inspector asked Caltrans to post additional signs of a reduced speed zone, Atwood said.

“Caltrans used all feasible mitigation measures,” Atwood said.

He urged motorists to call the agency’s toll-free, 24-hour hotline to report any air pollution. [See sidebar.] In an e-mail, Caltrans public information officer Judy Gish said signs near the work zone warn that speed should be reduced and that uneven pavement should be expected. The construction area is being swept and sweepers do spray water, Gish noted.

“Caltrans monitors the project constantly, and will check to see if more spraying is needed,” Gish said.

Utility and slope paving work to cause PCH delays this week

The 12-mile repaving project snarling traffic between Malibu Lagoon Bridge and the McClure Tunnel in Santa Monica is just one aspect of what will surely be three years worth of driving nightmares.

In addition to the repaving project, there will be utility work and slope paving, according to the Caltrans Web site for lane closures.

Utility work southbound between Las Flores Canyon Road and Topanga Canyon Boulevard began Wednesday night this week between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., and will continue through to Friday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Slope paving on Pacific Coast Highway southbound between Heathercliff and Kanan Dume roads will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the next two weeks, the Web site shows.

At least one lane of traffic in each direction will be open for both projects, the Caltrans Web site states.

According to the PCH Partners Web site, dedicated to informing motorists of the status of projects undertaken by local agencies, Malibu’s installation of a traffic signal at Corral Canyon is expected to begin in July and take 60 days to complete.

Shortly after Labor Day, the city will facilitate the placement of overhead utilities underground at Carbon Beach, Malibu Deputy City Engineer Claudio Sanchez said. That project is expected to continue until early next year.

The Santa Monica’s Palisades Bluffs Improvement Project is also expected to start after Labor Day, the PCH Partners Web site states.