Sign of the times

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After a lengthy approval process, Pacific Coast Highway speed signs become a reality.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

Safety advocates say Pacific Coast Highway just became a little safer with the installation of six speed reduction or Vehicle Calming signs. The signs, which alert motorists to the speed they are traveling, come as a huge personal victory for Public Safety Commissioner Carol Randall. Randall started campaigning for the signs and for greater traffic safety several years ago when her son-in-law was killed by a speeding motorist in front of her family home on the highway.

Randall said of the signs, “I’m thrilled, and I’m really glad we were able to get them in before the start of the summer which can be frightening.”

The safety devices have been installed at several key locations near Topanga Canyon, Big Rock, Cove Colony and Zuma Beach. Three signs have been installed on the south side of the highway and three signs can be found on the north side of the highway. The arrival of the signs comes amid renewed calls for increased traffic safety in light of two recent highway fatalities.

Randall said the signs, however, are not a substitute for traffic enforcement and personal responsibility. “People really need to pay more attention, starting with our own residents.”

Even so, the signs seem to be getting people’s attention.

“You notice them right away,” said Malibu visitor Shirley Ashford. “I was coming north on PCH. It clocked me at 49 miles per hour and I immediately lowered my speed.”

Malibu Public Works Director Robert Brager said he’s already seen evidence that the safety devices are doing their job. “It’s wonderful now that they are up and running,” Brager said. “I’ve driven back and forth and I see brake lights. They are getting people to slow down.”

Safety advocates say the signs serve as an important reminder that the highway is a residential street not a freeway. Although the signs were OK’d by the Malibu City Council in 2003, a lack of funding, and a lengthy approval process and meeting exacting specifications demanded by Caltrans held up their installation for more than four and a half years.

With the help of Congressman Brad Sherman the city was able to obtain a federal transportation grant of more than $100,000 to make the signs a reality. In March, the City Council moved to speed up the process by fronting the funds needed to complete the project.

“We went ahead and used general fund money,” Director Brager explained. “We wanted to expedite. We knew the residents wanted the signs. We knew the community wanted them.”

Where the signs are:

Southbound, south side of PCH (aka eastbound):

Location No. 1: Adjacent to 30300 PCH

Location No. 2: Adjacent to 27140 Malibu Cove Colony Dr.

Location No. 3: Adjacent to 20748 PCH

Northbound, north side of PCH (aka westbound):

Location No. 4: Adjacent to a property in between 29243 and 29339 PCH.

Location No. 5: 10 feet east from mile post No. 49.5 on PCH

Location No. 6: Across from 19106 PCH