Not so great expectations


    Just when you think you have seen Caltrans exhibit a new level of blundering, that state agency has come back to surprise us with another outrage.

    You know those curb medians they said were unsafe and tore out? The ones they promised to reinstall to prevent unsafe U-turns? The ones that they’re going to reinstall after Malibu citizens pointed out the foreseeable problems?

    Well, they are not going to put the medians where they need them the most, along Zuma Beach.

    The paving contractors tell me that Caltrans ordered them to repave PCH at Zuma with drainage to only one side of the street. Installing the curbs on the flat pavement would cause water to pond!

    Brilliant job, Caltrans. Now tourists will continue to make those death-defying U-turns trying to grab empty parking places at the beach.

    And how about those lane closures in Santa Monica? Here’s an amazing fact: the lanes are closed so that Santa Monica can dig a tunnel for the sewer line deep beneath PCH. This tunnel will be 60 feet below the surface, meaning the tunnel could have safely been drilled below the property along PCH, with the drilling pits located in the beach parking lots.

    Or, Caltrans could have ordered Santa Monica to use subway-style construction methods in which decking is used to maintain all traffic flow over a tunneling site. Santa Monica’s engineer says that would be too expensive.

    Why didn’t Caltrans or the PCH Advisory Committee set up by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl demand this alternative? Was it even considered? I asked this to Caltrans last week but have had no answer.

    The answer is that Caltrans approved the Santa Monica Project without any substantive changes aimed at maintaining full traffic flow. Santa Monica’s outlook on this, and I quote exactly from an engineer working for that city, is “well, you moved to Malibu. Shouldn’t you expect such problems?”

    With engineers like those in Santa Monica and at Caltrans, I guess the answer is yes.

    Hans Laetz