By Olin Ericksen
January 31 -- Santa Monica will have to shell out about
$800,000 to bring its entire system of out-of-order flashing crosswalks
Thirteen of the city’s 15 "in-pavement" flashing
crosswalks -- which City officials envisioned as a cheap way to
"enhance" safety without significantly slowing traffic
-- are not working, including one which was the site of a pedestrian
fatality last week. (see
But if the City Council wants the crosswalks to work properly,
the City will not only have to pay for it, but a whole new way
of installing the system will need to be devised, transportation
officials said Tuesday
"Their design isn't really as durable as some other things
we have in the streets," said Lucy Dyke, the City’s
transportation manager. "I think we are looking at about
$800,000 to replace them all with a system that we hope will be
The City is currently searching for a third product line of in-pavement
flashers. Two systems -- the Lightguard and Smartstud systems
-- have both failed on Santa Monica's heavily traveled east-west
arteries, because of how they settle in the asphalt, Dyke said.
Now, the City will take on the job of installing the flashers
in concrete, which is more stable than asphalt, significantly
increasing the costs of the entire system, Dyke said.
"We are going to not only replace the vendors, but the whole
installation practice," she said. "One of the main ways
they sold these things, which was not Santa Monica's main goal
in getting them, was that they were cheaper."
The increase in cost could mean that the City must now enter a
bidding process for the new supply, even as traffic officials
await temporary replacement flashers that have already been ordered.
There is no timeline on when that bidding process will start or
when City officials will receive the temporary parts, Dyke said.
The majority of flashing crosswalk systems -- which are installed
on Pico, Santa Monica and Ocean Park boulevards, as well as one
on Montana Avenue -- were Smartstud Systems sold by Econolite.
The company supplies several traffic-related supplies to Santa
Monica, including Smartstud systems, a product the company discontinued
last October, if not sooner, according to Dyke.
"I think it was because they’re unreliable," she
Econolite's other products have worked well for the City, she
said, and Santa Monica continues to hold a contract with the company.
When Econolite stopped selling the product, Santa Monica couldn't
just find a replacement, Dyke said.
"They're not kind of off-the-shelf items and widely available,"
Dyke said her staff is following council direction and believes
they will eventually hit upon a good formula to make the crosswalks
"This is the third product we'll be considering," she
Dyke said she disagrees with critics who worry that the flashers
imbedded along the crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of
"This has been a question about crosswalks in general,"
she said. "It really depends on the location of the crosswalk.
“The City hired a whole lot of people to decide where they
should go to make it easier for people to cross without introducing
any additional risk for pedestrians."