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Council Expected to Approve Nearly $2.5 Million for Pedestrian Improvements on Pico

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By Jorge Casuso

November 17, 2021 -- The City Council is expected to take a major step in making a dangerous stretch of Pico Boulevard near Santa Monica College (SMC) safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

On Tuesday the Council will vote on a $2,427,614 contract with Access Pacific, Inc. to construct pedestrian improvements at five intersections between 17th Street and Cloverfield Boulevard.

Between 2015 and 2020, 13 pedestrians were injured on the busy stretch near SMC's main campus according to City staff.

The improvements will shorten pedestrian crossing distances, improve pedestrian visibility and provide a bicycle route around the campus and a protected bikeway between 16th and 17th streets, City officials said.

The improvements also include striped crosswalks, ADA compliant curb ramps and pavement markings.

"The proposed improvements would address the types of incidents occurring on this segment of Pico Boulevard," staff said in its report to the Council.

The majority of the pedestrian injuries were the result of a driver failing to yield, staff said.

Installing curb extensions would help address the problem by reducing the crossing distances, minimizing pedestrian exposure to traffic and improving sight lines, according to staff.

In addition to the pedestrian injuries along the busy stretch, 11 cyclists were injured between 2015 and 2020, staff said.

"The project would address these occurrences by enhancing bike connections both across and on Pico," the report said.

Four of the five intersections were identified on the City’s Vision Zero High Priority Network developed after a record eight pedestrians were killed in Santa Monica in 2017.

The fatalities prompted the Council to order faster action on a sweeping re-design of city streets to enhance pedestrian safety and carve a post for a Safe Streets "Czar" ("Santa Monica City Council Calls for Safe Streets 'Czar,'" May 11, 2017).

Construction of the Pico Boulevard Pedestrian Safety Improvements Project is expected to begin in early spring 2022 and last for six to eight months, staff said.

The project is funded entirely by grants and transportation impact fees (TIF).

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