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City Council Takes Steps to Make Wilshire Boulevard Safer

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January 11, 2019 -- In the past decade six people have been killed and 29 severely injured in traffic accidents on Wilshire Boulevard, most of them pedestrians and bicyclists.

On Tuesday the City Council took initial steps to make it safer to navigate the busy thoroughfare by authorizing a two-year $510,000 contract with Toole Design Group to "evaluate safety conditions" and "identify targeted safety countermeasures."

"Increasing safe and comfortable mobility options, including walking and biking, is a strategic priority of the Council," staff wrote in its report.

The Wilshire Boulevard Corridor Safety Enhancement Study -- funded with a state grant -- is part of the City's Vision Zero efforts to eliminate "severe and fatal injury crashes" by 2026, staff said.

The initiative was adopted by the Council in the City's 2016 Pedestrian Action Plan ("Santa Monica Council Weighs in on Blueprint for Pedestrian Safety," February 25, 2016).

The following year, the Council voted to create a position to oversee the initiative ("Santa Monica City Council Calls for Safe Streets 'Czar,'” May 11, 2017).

In a unanimous vote on May 9 2017, the Council directed staff to hasten and possibly expand its plans for fashioning streets to better and more safely suit walking and bicycling.

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Santa Monica’s Pedestrian Action Plan, adopted along with the Vision Zero policy in February 2016, makes more than 100 changes that include improving crosswalks, adding curb extensions, widening sidewalks, adding signals and other amenities.

Capital projects are staggered over five, ten and 15-year periods.

Long-term projects include creating greenways, adding lighting, reconfiguring intersections, adding new median refuge islands and relocating transit stops.

Under tthe contract approved Tuesday, Toole Design Group will be "tasked with identifying targeted safety countermeasures."

The consultant will use "a detailed, data-driven assessment of crash data, input from first responders, bus operators, and a robust community outreach process," staff wrote in its report.

It also will build on "the goals and recommendations from prior planning efforts," staff said.

"The outcome of the study would be the identification, and preliminary design, of cost effective safety measures that can be implemented by the City in the short- and long-term, with a plan for implementation and funding," according to staff.

Work on the project -- which will be funded with a grant from the California Department of Transportation (“Caltrans”) -- is expected to be completed before the February 28, 2020 funding deadline.

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