Barriers, Safety Measures at Venice Boardwalk Could Cost $1.7 Million

Officials say cars drive onto the boardwalk about 15 times a day on average.

The memorial for Alice Gruppioni killed on the Venice Boardwalk in August 2013. Credit: Patch
The memorial for Alice Gruppioni killed on the Venice Boardwalk in August 2013. Credit: Patch

By City News Service

City officials today proposed installing better lighting, security cameras and an automated street barrier system to beef up public safety along Venice's Ocean Front Walk, where a car fatally struck a 32-year-old Italian woman last summer.

Recreation and Parks officials estimated it would cost about $1.2 million to install retractable bollards at five of the 32 streets that cross the beach boardwalk.

The automated barriers, which could be lowered to allow emergency vehicles to go through, would impede drivers who mistake the pedestrian area of the boardwalk for a road, especially at intersections that lead to parking lots.

Officials said cars drive onto the boardwalk about 15 times a day on average.

Also being proposed is the permanent closure of 18 entry points to the boardwalk -- using bollards, planters or bike racks -- at an estimated cost of about $400,000.

Gates that can be manually opened, costing about $150,000, could also be installed at eight intersections.

Maintenance of the $1.2 million automated system, the costliest of the safety measures proposed in the Venice Beach Public Safety Needs Assessment, might prove challenging because of the ``corrosive'' beach environment, according to Recreation and Parks officials.

The cost of security cameras and a sound system, which could be used by the LAPD to broadcast announcements during emergencies, would be in the six figures, officials said.

City staff also recommended adding LED lighting along Ocean Front Walk.

The council's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee, which heard a presentation on the safety measures, advanced the proposals to the Budget and Finance Committee. City staff were also directed to identify funding sources for the safety measures.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Venice area and requested the assessment, said the measures would prevent drivers from accidentally going into pedestrian areas along the boardwalk.

In addition to the report, Bonin last August ordered signs and temporary barriers to be put up immediately at multiple intersections while city officials consider more permanent options.

Bonin said the woman's death last summer was the work of a “mad man” who drove around existing barriers into a crowded boardwalk, but it drew attention to safety problems at “one of our most heavily traveled tourist destinations.”

Bonin said the safety measures proposed today are geared more toward accidents such as when a car driven by an 86-year-old man plowed into the crowded Santa Monica Farmers Market 10 years ago, killing 10 people and injuring 63. The market was set up without barriers in the middle of Arizona Avenue at the crowded Third Street Promenade.

The city of Santa Monica responded by placing parked cars straddling streets leading to pedestrian areas, eventually installing cable restraints and other removable vehicle-stopping devices.



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