Wilshire Boulevard: The City of Santa Monica has been hard at work the past several months, paving roadways and adding key safety measures along Wilshire Boulevard. Photo by City of Santa Monica


For Wilshire Boulevard, the cacophony of steamrollers and jackhammers was a vital part of the City’s efforts to reduce accidents along the busy street

Over the past few months, residents may have noticed noise along one of the city’s iconic streets. For Wilshire Blvd improvements, the cacophony of steamrollers and jackhammers was a vital part of the City’s efforts to reduce accidents along the busy street.

Beginning in May, the city has been constructing several deterrents to pedestrian and transit-related accidents including new crosswalks and new road infrastructure impacting the way neighborhood traffic access Wilshire.

To determine what troubled the population, the Mobility Department reached out to Santa Monica neighborhood associations, businesses and the public; receiving over 550 comments related to safety issues on Wilshire.

Of the comments, 40 percent related to difficult crossing conditions on the street, something that city Senior Transportation Planner Jack Moreau said was “no surprise,” and aligned with city data. Moreau’s analysis concluded that uncontrolled or “un-signalized” intersections were at most fault, accounting for 89 percent of severe injuries to people walking or biking, despite representing less than half of overall Wilshire intersections.

Uncontrolled intersections are ones without a traffic signal or a flashing crosswalk beacon that pedestrians can press. One such intersection is Wilshire and 10th Street, where Moreau said there is “a lot of movement” due to quickly passing cars and pedestrians crossing in all directions.

“It was kind of disorganized, really, because people are having to navigate this … very wide corridor,” Moreau said.

To combat pedestrian accidents, officials installed paint and post curb extensions at Wilshire and 10th, along with 14 other intersections along the street. The posts discourage illegal parking or encroachment onto the curb area, and increase visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. Wilshire and 10th received a flashing crosswalk beacon as well, with beacons also installed at Wilshire and 18th Street, 22nd Street, 25th Street and Franklin Street.

These same uncontrolled intersections breed accidents when a vehicle coming from the side streets hits the intersection and attempts a left turn or straight maneuver. The department study stated that drivers attempting a left or through movement from side streets at unsignalized intersections only accounted for 1 percent of total movement on Wilshire; yet 20 percent of the street’s crashes come from that scenario. Even at signalized intersections, 87 percent of crashes were vehicle-to-vehicle, and 42 percent of those involved left-turning movements.

The department countermeasure was making right-turn-only restrictions at 14 different intersections. Those intersections now contain yellow posts physically preventing traffic from making a left turn.

By establishing clear regulations at the unsignalized intersections for the Wilshire Blvd improvements, the department hopes to separate vehicle and pedestrian movements, as well as simplify traffic flow and create more “predictable” interactions on the road.

Intersections with the restrictions include Wilshire and 10th, Wilshire and 18th, Wilshire and 22nd and Wilshire and Chelsea Ave, and the team is about halfway through the installations.

“If you’ve ever tried to take a left onto Wilshire at 10th Street or 18th Street, it doesn’t feel safe, and that’s what everyone told us,” Moreau said. “When we talk to people, every time I bring up the restrictions, they say ‘that makes sense.’”

The department reached out prior to construction with 17 presentations to neighborhood associations, and knocking on the doors of over 260 businesses on Wilshire. Moreau, City Mobility Manager Jason Kligier and their team also sent out over 13,000 postcards announcing their intentions; giving notice to all residents, businesses and property owners within a 1,000-foot radius of the street.

Moreau says that feedback on the Wilshire Blvd improvements has been positive, and that it remains important to “keep lines of communication available” with the public.

“We just want to keep people up to date on the progress, and I know construction can be sometimes dragged on, so we don’t want people to feel like they’re left out.”

Several parking spots were shifted as bus stops were relocated and repainted with red curbs creating a clear visual distinction for a bus stop area.

Parking spots were relocated about 50 feet away at places like Bagel Nosh on Wilshire and 17th Street and Whole Foods on Wilshire and 23rd Street, and were temporarily removed while parking meters were replaced. Moreau says he appreciates residents’ “patience” with the temporary issue. Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Judy Kruger said that she has not heard from any businesses in the area that have been impacted by the construction.

Kligier said emphasizing bus stops is an important investment with anticipated growth in bus usage from a Los Angeles Metro project to extend the D Line subway to Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills and Westwood. The extension creates an opportunity for more travelers to transfer to Santa Monica via local bus service.

“This is important now, but it’s also setting us up for the future to where we anticipate more walking and biking and transit use along (Wilshire),” Kligier said. “And so we want to get prepared for that.”

The mobility team is also readying for the next pieces in their construction timeline. The city recently received a grant from the state to install a traffic signal at Wilshire and 16th Street, which Moreau called one of the “highest priority intersections.” Further on in “phase two” of Wilshire improvements, the team aims to add another traffic signal at Wilshire and Chelsea Avenue for safe pedestrian passage into Douglas Park.


Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...