Anyone who lives in Malibu or drives on Pacific Coast Highway knows safety has always been a top concern for the popular roadway. Some relief is coming and some is already here, thanks to a sales tax that is funding nearly a dozen improvements for Malibu drivers. At the end of last month, Malibu city officials delivered an update on projects to improve the thoroughfare.
“In November 2008, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R that enacted a half-cent sales tax for LA County,” Elizabeth Shavelson, assistant to the city manager, explained. “It’s projected to generate $40 billion over 30 years for transportation and transit projects.” At the Jan. 23 Malibu City Council meeting, a breakdown of Measure R funding was given by Shavelson.
Malibu’s portion of Measure R funds currently total $38.3 million. Out of nearly a dozen proposed highway improvement projects that will use these funds, three have been completed, including the Kanan Dume Road arrester bed and the PCH and Big Rock intersection improvements — both wrapped up in 2014. PCH bike route improvements were completed in 2015.
“Measure R funds are being used to systematically implement the high-priority projects,” Shavelson explained.
In June 2015, Malibu City Council approved the PCH Safety Study that examined existing road conditions, analyzed collision data and gathered public input to develop and prioritize a list of safety improvement projects. The No. 1 priority project identified in that study was to upgrade and interconnect 12 traffic signals from Topanga Canyon Boulevard to John Tyler Drive so they can be synchronized and connected to the Caltrans Traffic Control Management Center to allow both real time and remote programming. The total project budget is $13.7 million, $10 million of which was provided by LA County.
Another project that Council Member Laura Rosenthal was enthusiastic about is the La Costa area pedestrian improvement. The project is currently in a final design and Cal Trans permitting phase. It includes the installation of a pedestrian signal at the existing marked crosswalk to improve pedestrian and driver safety in the area. That project budget is $500,000.
Another improvement project discussed by Shavelson is to take place on Civic Center Way. Currently in the design phase, the project is intended to reconfigure the roadway plus the installation of a sidewalk that will connect Bluffs Park, Pepperdine University and Webster Elementary to the Malibu Civic Center area. The project budget is $3 million.
The PCH Regional Message System Project is in the development phase as well. This project is intended to install permanent changeable message signs at strategic locations along PCH and county canyon roads to relay real time traffic information to motorists. The total budget is $2.5 million, $2 million of which was provided by LA County. Rosenthal commented that the system could be used to alert canyon drivers about problems on PCH and possibly turn drivers away in an emergency.
Another project being developed is for general improvement at PCH intersections, including installation of left-turn signals. The total project budget is one million dollars.
The PCH median improvement project is currently in the scoping and funding phase. The project is intended to improve and install raised medians from Webb Way to Puerco Canyon Road. The total project budget is $6.95 million.
The PCH shoulder improvement project is currently pending the completion of the ongoing PCH parking study. The project is intended to improve the highway shoulders to allow for parking and promote safety. The total project budget is $3.5 million.
“To date, the city has programmed $33 million of its $38.3 million Measure R allocation,” Shavelson described. “The city has $5.3 million remaining to spend over the next 20 years. Potential future projects include those identified and prioritized in the PCH Safety Study, including the PCH signal system improvement project from Paradise Cove to Trancas Canyon Road.” Engineers are also studying the troubled intersections of PCH at Las Flores and Rambla Pacifico, known as an area plagued with a high number of traffic collisions.
More money to fund traffic and highway safety will be coming to Malibu soon after the passage of Measure M. In November 2016, LA County voters approved another half-cent sales tax to boost Measure R and provide additional transportation and transit funding. It is anticipated to generate $300 million for the Las Virgenes/Malibu area over the next 40 years. Malibu’s per capita allocation is projected to be $45 million over the 40-year period. The sales tax goes into effect in July 2017. No Measure M projects have been programmed at this time.