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City begins two PCH construction projects

Pictured is the arrestor bed on Kanan Dume, descending to Pacific Coast Highway, which will be under construction beginning March 27. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured is the intersection of Big Rock Drive and Pacific Coast Highway which will be getting a new left turn light. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
1:51 pm PDT March 24, 2014

The City of Malibu broke ground on a construction project at the Pacific Coast Highway and Big Rock Drive intersection on Tuesday, March 25, and will break ground on another project at PCH and Kanan Dume Road on Thursday, March 27.
Both projects are funded by Measure R, an approximately $40 billion traffic relief initiative approved by Los Angeles County in 2008 to install transportation upgrades across the County.
The Big Rock Drive project concerns the intersection of PCH and Big Rock Drive in eastern Malibu and involves the implementation of new traffic poles, which have been provided for the City by Caltrans, and the creation of a protected left phase turning onto Big Rock Drive.
As it stands now, the left turn of the intersection is a permissive turn, meaning drivers can make a left at their own discretion if the light is green, according to Malibu public works analyst Elizabeth Shavelson.
“If cars can predict how other cars will move, generally intersections operate more safely and smoothly,” Shavelson said. “This will add more order and control to the intersection and increase efficiency and safety.”
The contract for the project was awarded at the March 10 Malibu City Council meeting to PTM General Engineering Services in the amount of $149,049, according to Shavelson.
“The project is relatively small in terms of fiscal impact, but great in terms of the safety impact,” Shavelson said.
The contractors will have to prepare a traffic review plan, to be reviewed by the City Council members and Cal Trans, and at least one lane of traffic on both sides of PCH will be open at all times. But, Shavelson hopes that lane closures and traffic disruption will be limited.
“There might be a temporary inconvenience, but, ultimately, we’re installing a permanent improvement,” she said.
Shavelson also hopes the Kanan Dume project will require only minor interference with traffic patterns.
The project concerns the arrestor bed on Kanan descending southbound to PCH, an area which Shavelson says has been a priority for the City to get funding for for many years.
The current arrestor bed was installed by Los Angeles County before the City of Malibu was incorporated. The project aims to “upgrade the materials and extend and realign the bed so that it’s easier for the trucks to pull in there and utilize if the need arises,” Shavelson said.
The steep decline has proved dangerous in past years as the site of several fatal accidents of drivers of runaway trucks.
The City Council awarded the project to Granite Construction Inc. in the amount of $751,878 at its Feb. 24 meeting, but Shavelson says that amount is subjected to small fluctuations once the project gets underway.
As with the Big Rock Drive intersection, a traffic review plan will be submitted for review and approval, and one lane of traffic on both sides of Kanan will remain open at all times. Necessary lane closures will only be permitted during certain hours, reducing the impact on rush hour traffic.
“They’re welcome additions to safety,” City Councilman Lou La Monte, who has been involved in the projects throughout his term, said. “Thanks to the City Council, the City Manager  and Bob Brager and his staff, it’s finally a reality. This will help save lives.”
For more information or to RSVP to the ground breaking ceremony at Kanan Dume, email bayala@malibucity.org.