A Safer Malibu Canyon

It looks like Malibu Canyon Road will be getting some extra safety protection with new guardrails about to be installed on some of its steepest canyon drops.

The impetus for the safety measure comes from Malibu resident Jennifer deNicola, who many remember as a crusader against PCBs at Malibu Middle School and an unsuccessful candidate for city council last year. 

DeNicola said that while driving Malibu Canyon over the years, she always wondered why there weren’t more guardrails. With drastic drops—as steep as 600 feet at some locations—she said she was concerned.

“I believed it was a major public safety issue not to have guardrails,” deNicola explained. “In addition, I would see people ride their bicycles on this road, making the areas with no shoulder a death waiting to happen.

“As a mother, I knew my own children were getting closer to driving age and this road without guardrails scared me even more.”

DeNicola contacted Los Angeles County Supervisor Shiela Kuehl’s office to inquire about the possibility of installing guardrails. She initially was told there was no file on the matter and no record of anyone previously asking for them.

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A contact at Kuehl’s office was able to arrange a safety study of Malibu Canyon based on past accidents where people have gone over the side—although some have been deemed not accidental, but, in fact, suicides. 

DeNicola eventually went on a ride-a-long with a county employee to identify stretches of Malibu Canyon Road that might benefit from guardrails to protect the public, including straight-aways with little or no shoulder.

According to deNicola, the information she received back indicated that indeed guardrails were warranted in some areas. In the meantime, the county has installed some concrete Jersey barriers that have previously proven effective at reducing the impact of traffic collisions and could help prevent cars or bicyclists from tumbling down the canyon road.

To date in 2017 Malibu Search and Rescue has responded to five calls on Malibu Canyon Road.

Los Angeles County Public Works Public Affairs Manager Kerjon Lee confirmed an investigation into the installation of approximately 700 feet of embankment guardrail along a curved section of Malibu Canyon Road approximately 2.1 miles south of Piuma Road. County staff is currently in the process of preparing a cost estimate and work schedule for the project.

“We’re also looking at two other requests from constituents along the roadway [Malibu Canyon],” Lee explained. “The one we have done some engineering study on is this section and we are making that recommendation to the board.

“Often times, these studies originate from requests from constituents to study a piece of roadway.”

However, a delay on guardrail work is expected since Los Angeles County has since learned that Pepperdine University has a sewer line that is in the way of some of the locations where guardrails were recommended.

The university has been asked to move those sewer lines and word is it may have been planning to do so anyway. A permit has been issued for the Pepperdine sewer work, although there is no timeline on when the work is expected to be completed.

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