A pedestrian bridge and countdown traffic signals were among the options considered for Pacific Coast Highway during a panel discussion of safety concerns along the busy thoroughfare.
Representatives from all sectors of Hermosa Beach agreed to work toward revamping Pacific Coast Highway after crafting an official mission statement at the PCH and Aviation Improvement Committee meeting Thursday.
The committee — composed of two city councilmen, three city commissioners and representatives from the city's residential and business communities — hopes to produce several innovative solutions for both Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard in order to improve traffic flow, beautify and create an environment that is more of a destination, rather than merely a transit corridor.
Yunus Ghausi of the California Department of Transportation addressed the group, offering specifics about the state's responsibilities for PCH that could assist with the improvement project.
"Safety is our top priority," he said.
Ghausi proposed several innovative methods by which the city could exert greater administrative control over the state-owned street, which carries between 40,000 and 43,000 vehicles per day, depending upon the season.
These included such measures as: having the state cede control of a portion of PCH to Hermosa Beach, and pursuing state and local funding for proposed improvements and enhancements along the road.
The California budget for the coming fiscal year has no provisions for the PCH improvement, but Ghausi mentioned that several new, innovative measures may be available, including improvements such as pedestrian "countdown" traffic signals, which offer visual and auditory notifications about the time remaining until the signal changes at a crosswalk, he said.
At the meeting, City Manager Stephen Burrell explained the legislative process by which the city pursues grant funding. "We are always looking for new sources of funding, just like we did for the Pier Avenue project," he said.
Several committee members expressed interest in pursuing these opportunities. Specifically, Councilman Jeff Duclos was curious as to "what alternatives exist for Hermosa Beach to obtain funds that could improve pedestrian safety, like the pedestrian bridge they built across PCH in Huntington Beach?"
As the committee continued to brainstorm, it decided to form three subcommittees to deal with the aesthetics, infrastructure, economic development and communications for this project.
The committee adopted a mission statement Thursday night that outlined its plans for the future:
"The mission of the Hermosa Beach PCH and Aviation Improvement Committee shall be to develop a collaborative effort with the city, business and property owners, Caltrans and public utilities seeking viable, safe, environmentally friendly and cost-effective solutions to improve the aesthetics and economic well-being of these vital transportation and business corridors."
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Geoff Hirsch, a Hermosa Beach resident for more than 20 years, has served as a parks and recreation commissioner, on the board of directors of the Hermosa Beach Historical Society, and is a member of the PCH-Aviation improvement committee, recently chartered by the city council.