Last Thursday morning the south bound lanes of the Pacific Coast Highway came to a virtual standstill due to a blinking traffic light at the intersection south of Temescal. The backup was so extensive that the usual 25 minute commute into Santa Monica was stretched to almost one hour and a half. As all Malibuites know, traffic lights will on an occasion malfunction and accidents like the one that occurred this past Monday morning at Gladstones will continue to obstruct the PCH. What distinguished the July 27 incident was the complete lack of attention or response by any of the government agencies who are responsible for monitoring or patrolling the PCH. There was a total and utter breakdown in the chain of response to a minor traffic situation that was allowed to fester thereby resulting in a public safety crisis.
When I reached the malfunctioning light hours after it had been initially reported on KNX Traffic Radio and no one from the police, sheriff, CHP or Department of Transportation had shown up yet, I became incensed and outraged. I immediately got on my cell phone and called every government agency I could think of. Each and every call was met with ennui and resistance, the standard reply being that it was not within their jurisdiction. The only person who finally listened and agreed to help was the watch commander at the West Side Division of the LAPD.
From Malibu to the McClure Tunnel, PCH runs through a number of jurisdictions.
There is no clear or definitive understanding of who is responsible for what portion of PCH. As a result, the reaction time to problems is slow or in the case of that Thursday nonexistent. We need to establish a clear understanding of who is in charge of which areas of the PCH and, in this age of widespread mobile phone use, provide commuters with the appropriate numbers to contact regarding problems as they occur. We need to examine the traffic flow issues and to devise an efficient community-based response system. This will improve all of our lives and make the PCH, our lifeline, a road fit to use and rely on.