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City Hall this week installed Santa Monica's first solar-powered, LED stop sign at the intersection of Olympic Drive and Avenida Mazatlan. City officials will monitor the intersection to judge the sign's effectiveness. Many have complained about drivers doing a California rolling stop at that intersection, which is adjacent to City Hall and the Public Safety Facility in the Civic Center. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CIVIC CENTER — In an effort to get drivers to pay more attention to what’s in front of them, City Hall has installed Santa Monica’s first solar-powered LED stop sign.

Sam Morrisey, City Hall’s principal transportation engineer, said the sign was installed Tuesday at the highly-used intersection of Olympic Drive and Avenida Mazatlan, which is used daily by City Hall employees, police officers and those walking to the Santa Monica Municipal Courthouse. The intersection is just west of Fourth Street and the on-ramp to Interstate 10.

“We have a constant problem with people doing the California rolling stop there and while we haven’t had any accidents or pedestrian injuries, there have been some close calls and a lot of people complained about it so we wanted to increase driver visibility,” Morrisey said.

Hence the stop sign, equipped with a ring of LED lights that constantly flash, reminding drivers to stop.

The sign is on loan from the manufacturer, Wisconsin-based TAPCO, for 90 days. Morrisey will monitor the sign’s effectiveness and possibly purchase more if he sees a positive impact on drivers. The signs cost roughly $4,000, including shipping and handling.

“If we don’t like it, we’ll send it back,” Morrisey said.

So far, drivers seem to be responding well to the sign, he said.

A solar panel is placed above the sign to harness the sun’s rays. A battery stores the energy and can hold a charge for up to five days, Morrisey said.

While the city uses solar-powered, LED lights at many of the 22 lighted crosswalks around the city, the stop sign is the first solar-powered traffic regulatory sign in Santa Monica.

Similar signs were installed at the Veterans Administration complex in Westwood, Morrisey said, and he believes the technology will grow in popularity.

kevinh@smdp.com

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