UPDATE: Well, not quite. While the city announced yesterday that the crosswalk synchronized stop lights would go live then and today, it turns out that they are not. Hany Demitri, the city’s principal engineer, said “the contractor realized yesterday that some of the signs that must be posted before the signal can be turned on are missing. He ordered the missing signs, they should be delivered today, and all signals should be turned on before Close of Business.”
Four signalized pedestrian crosswalks on Santa Monica Boulevard will go live today and tomorrow, a little more than three years after the death of Clinton Bounds sparked protests that City Hall wasn’t responding quickly enough to pedestrian safety issues.
The traffic signals at crosswalks at Santa Monica Boulevard and Westmount Drive and Santa Monica and Palm Avenue will be activated today. The signals at crosswalks at Santa Monica and West Knoll Drive and Santa Monica and Hancock Avenue will be activated tomorrow. Yesterday the city activated the stoplight on Westmont Drive at Santa Monica Boulevard that will allow drivers headed south on Westmount to turn left onto Santa Monica. In December of last year the city installed a traffic light-synchronized crosswalk on Santa Monica and Orange Grove Avenue on WeHo’s Eastside which replace two unlighted crosswalks, one near Orange Grove and the other near Ogden.
The new signals will be synchronized with traffic lights at major intersections on Santa Monica Boulevard. Pedestrians will only be allowed to cross at the crosswalks when cars are stopped at the crosswalk red light and the crosswalk light turns green.
The Santa Monica Boulevard crosswalk signalization project has involved the installation of new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, curb ramps, electrical connections, pavement, traffic signage, traffic striping pavement markings and modified concrete median islands.
Clinton Bounds, 62 and a long-time West Hollywood resident, was killed on Aug. 22, 2014, while crossing Santa Monica Boulevard near Hancock at around 11 p.m. Bounds was a frequent patron of gay bars on the west side of Santa Monica Boulevard such as Mickys, Revolver and Trunks and was popular with the young nightlife crowd. Early signs that Bounds was in an unlit crosswalk at Hancock sparked protests by local resident Larry Block and others who had joined Block’s “Cross Safe WeHo” campaign. Cross Safe WeHo was organized by Block, owner of The Block Party store, after a man was hit by a car in June 2014 while crossing Santa Monica Boulevard at the Westmount crosswalk.
Evidence later emerged that Bounds may have crossed that poorly lit area of Santa Monica Boulevard while intoxicated and while walking outside of the pedestrian crosswalk. However that didn’t stop Cross Safe WeHo from staging a public demonstration at the Hancock Avenue crosswalk and pressing the city to move faster in implementing crosswalk safety plans it had voted on in February of that year.
The installation of the signalized crosswalks grew to include installing the left turn light on Westmount. Previously drivers headed south on Westmount had had to turn right onto Santa Monica Boulevard and then make a U-turn at the traffic light at Santa Monica and Westbourne Drive to head east on Santa Monica. The city also created a turn lane on Santa Monica near the Ramada Inn which allows westbound passengers to turn into the parking structure above LASC and 24 Hour Fitness and also to make a U-turn and head east on Santa Monica Boulevard without going to the Westbourne traffic light.
Additional engineering enhancements implemented during the past three years also include in-street pedestrian crosswalk signs, which are bright neon yellow vertical signs posted at lane lines to warn drivers that it is “State Law to Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk,” and reflective raised pavement markers installed at edges of crosswalks, which help to alert motorists of crosswalk locations.
On a regular basis, deputies from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station’s Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) team and Community Impact Team (CIT) have been conducting crosswalk operations at various locations throughout the city.