Cross Creek Road to get facelift

Pros of redesign outweigh concerns of impacts on businesses during construction.

By Caroline Thomas/Special to The Malibu Times

How many times have you all but parked in the median of Cross Creek Road waiting for pedestrians and crisscrossing cars to find their destinations?

Not only is it inconvenient to try to turn left into one of the entrances serving businesses there, but sheriff’s reports indicate that Cross Creek Road is one of Malibu’s “hot spots” for low-speed traffic accidents.

To mitigate these concerns, the Public Works Commission has come up with two plans it will present to the City Council at Monday’s meeting.

Two of Malibu’s three “major” commercial centers are located along this confusing corridor where driveways are aplenty and sidewalks are few. The commission has recognized that the area is an important pedestrian-oriented locale for the community and its visitors, and yet the street is not pedestrian-friendly. Many of the sidewalks are discontinuous or non-existent, and poor drainage, uneven curbs and one mid-street crosswalk make for an adventurous stroll.

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Residents and merchants appear to agree about the need to improve the area.

Malibu Lumber manager Ronald Cina says a walk next door can be treacherous, especially in the rain.

“You have to be on your toes. In the recent storm, the wash wasn’t cleaned and our exit driveway began to flood. I can’t walk to Howdy’s on a winter day.”

There is an awkward culvert and no sidewalk along the front of the lumber store.

The lack of a coordinated plan has also led to a heavy share of fender-benders along Cross Creek Road; the vehicular challenges stem from poorly marked turn lanes, too many driveways, inadequate street parking and the confusing intersection with Civic Center Way.

These concerns and others have resulted in a plan that also shoulders the requirement of minimizing the impact of construction on the commercial and retail businesses, and Civic Center.

The commission has retained the Glendale architectural firm of Withers, Sandgren & Smith to complete the redesign.

The “serpentine” concept will curve the road in a way that eliminates the offset driveways and poorly used spaces. The plan also calls for additional crosswalks, continuous beautified walkways, and a small median that will narrow the Civic Center Way turn.

The company had also offered a second plan with landscaped medians along the length of Cross Creek Road and a “roundabout” traffic circle at the Cross Creek Road-Civic Center Way juncture. Although the commission rejected the plan because it reduced on-street parking and provided too few turning lanes, it will still be presented to council.

Longtime Malibu resident and former Chamber of Commerce executive Mary Lou Blackwood believes that “not one merchant would deny that more parking is needed. And it would be nice to have the street look like something that the city is proud of.”

Citing the six federal disasters in the 10 years Malibu has been a city, Mayor Joan House said, “The window of opportunity is here. A lot of the city’s efforts have been directed to those [disasters]. If everyone is on board, we’ll proceed.”

Although the mayor says “achieving harmony during construction” is a high priority, the mitigation of Cross Creek’s multiple snarls is bound to bring along inconvenience for merchants and their customers.

Taverna Tony’s owner, Tony Koursaris, said he is “worried about the cons, but improvement is good.”

Cina said, “If I’ve got a lumber truck that can’t get in, the driver will get ticked off, but there are delays all over. If Ralph’s could survive their construction, then we’ll survive too.”

Malibu’s Public Works Director Chuck Bergson said the city would try to minimize the impact on the area by spreading the construction and landscaping into multiple phases. He estimates the first stage will be underway by the end of summer 2002 and may take three to four months to complete.

This phase will tackle drainage and street and sidewalk construction. Bergson said he hopes to complete the landscaping, street lighting and remaining improvements by the end of next year.

Withers, Sandgren & Smith has designed several streetscapes in Southern California, including Arcadia’s Huntington Drive and First Street project, and Cypress’ Lincoln Avenue–considered a landmark corner that sets the tone for that city.

The City Council will hear input on the Cross Creek redesign from all interested parties on Dec. 10.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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