Kuehl presents PCH task force projects


Originally sparked by calls from Malibu resident Peter Csato after his 16-year-old daughter, Sabrina, was hit head-on by a drunken driver near Geoffrey’s restaurant last March, the Pacific Coast Highway Task Force convened last Thursday for a public meeting. The force behind the force, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, reported on the projects she created a year ago following three Malibu highway fatalities in four months.

“Caltrans continues to monitor traffic collisions involving turning movements and crossovers on PCH, and make additional changes and improvements to the highway as needed,” said Kuehl, whose district includes Malibu, in describing one of the recommendations. “Specifically, the upgrades to PCH for 1999-2000 from Topanga Canyon to the County Line, that include a new median designed to improve safety and prevent crossover- related accidents, will be reviewed, and if successful, used for other portions of the highway.”

Instead of a median, which would hamper emergency personnel, there will be a new type of preventive barrier, “rumble strips ground in the street,” said Kuehl. They will give a strong jolt and vibration to cars passing over them.

Senior Transportation Engineer Sameer Haddadeen described specific Malibu improvements, including signal, pavement marking and signage upgrades, tie-in to Caltrans’ traffic management center downtown, coastal embankment correction, and the realignment of Zumirez Drive. (See inset.)

The state is footing the bill for the multimillion dollar projects on its highway, but Malibu will get help from the federal government as well. A federal transportation bill, T-21, provides $650,000 for “additional safety improvements on PCH,” said Susan Little, legislative assistant to Rep. Brad Sherman, whose district includes Malibu.

Malibu residents Henry Gibson and Ryan Embree spoke at the public comment portion of the meeting. Gibson asked for more traffic signals from John Tyler Drive to the county line. “Malibuites are getting older, we can’t see too well,” he said. Embree wanted to know whether there would be more street sweeping.

The PCH Task Force consists of representatives from Caltrans, state and local governments, public safety officials and residents from Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Topanga and Malibu. Its mission is to arrive at “a comprehensive understanding of all concerns surrounding PCH, from traffic and safety to geological integrity to aesthetic and neighborhood character,” Kuehl said. Recently, the Task Force formed a Working Group. It will meet bimonthly and will be responsible for communicating to the entire Task Force and for steering the Traffic Safety Corridor Project funded by a one-year grant by the state’s Office of Traffic Safety.