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Santa Monica Streets Getting Busier, Police Chief Says
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

June 24, 2016 -- Santa Monica’s streets are getting busier, with new visitors alighting from Expo trains downtown and drivers so frustrated with gridlock that they are spilling onto quiet side streets as an alternative.

Those are among the key conclusions of a June 21 report from Police Chief Jaqueline Seabrooks to the City Council that provides an update on policing in an “era of increasing traffic volume.”

“The City of Santa Monica is a dense and changing urban environment where light rail train service, cars, trucks, buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians all share the roadway,” Seabrooks wrote.

Expo opened for business in Santa Monica on May 20, but it is already increasing pedestrian activity downtown, Seabrooks said. ("All Aboard Santa Monica's New Light Rail Line," May 20, 2016).

She also notes that the growing popularity of mobile traffic apps such as Waze means more vehicles are being routed through “areas unaccustomed to more than local through traffic.”

Waze provides real-time information inputed by users that pinpoints the location of accidents, traffic jams, construction work and other traffic problems, re-routing drivers to alternative streets if need be.

“The challenges associated with facilitating safe traffic circulation during this era of increasing traffic volume and increasingly diverse multi-modal transportation will continue as the City’s landscape changes and the number of visitors continues to increase,” Seabrooks said.

With the new Expo line bringing more pedestrians, the Police Department’s traffic safety and enforcement efforts "have been and will continue to play an important role in facilitating safe mobility throughout Santa Monica,” the Chief said.

Expo’s debut in downtown and two other locations in Santa Monica marked the arrival of the first passenger trains since Pacific Electric’s famous red cars stopped operating in the bayside city in 1953 ("The Last Train to Santa Monica," May 23, 2016).

Officials expect the $1.5 billion Light Rail extension -- which connects Santa Monica and downtown LA -- to eventually bring about 64,000 visitors to the popular beach city.

The project is aimed in part at reducing gridlock on the 10 Freeway. The impact on downtown’s congested traffic is still uncertain, but officials are hoping Expo will lure drivers into taking the train, a bus, walking beautified streets and boulevards or using the City bike-share program “Breeze.”

Santa Monica police have increased enforcement, analysis of traffic patterns and education to deal with the city's changing environment, Seabrooks said.

“The Police Department utilizes traffic collision data, enforcement data, officer observations, information received from concerned community members, and information received as a result of collaborative efforts with the City’s Transportation Management staff to focus its enforcement efforts,” the chief said.

The force’s Traffic Services Section is handling the brunt of the congestion issue, the report said. It includes a lieutenant, a sergeant and ten officers, eight of whom patrol the City via motorcycles and are responsible for traffic-related investigations.

Also with the section are three supervisors, two Lead Traffic Services Officers, 34 Traffic Services Officers, nine part-time Traffic Control Officers, a civilian Parking Citation Review Officer, a staff assistant, a Crossing Guard Supervisor, a Lead Crossing Guard and 38 part-time Crossing Guards, the report said.

Santa Monica’s Expo Line includes three stations, a maintenance facility, a bike path and about three miles of trackway. The stations are at 26th Street/Bergamot, 17th Street/Santa Monica College and Downtown Santa Monica (at 4th/Colorado).

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