Sparked by a fatal motorcycle accident that took the life of 25-year-old Patrick O’Dell on November 20, the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Company (BBB) began to detour its Route 9 line last through the Marquez Knolls area—past Marquez Elementary—last Friday.
Yesterday, L.A. Metro bus drivers also began detouring from their regular westbound routes on Sunset. Passengers traveling toward PCH on Sunset must now change buses at Temescal Canyon Road, go south to PCH, west to Sunset and then back east on Sunset towards town, exiting across the street from their old established stops.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), buses are no longer allowed to make left turns from the right-turn pocket at western Marquez Avenue and Sunset. Plus, buses can no longer make U-turns using the island at this intersection.
At the time of the accident on Sunset at western Marquez, municipal buses traveling westbound on that stretch of Sunset were legally allowed to turn right on Marquez and maneuver around the large triangle in order to return to Sunset and head back towards town. A sign at the intersection highlighted this exemption, but has since been removed by the DOT.
A day before the detour started, the BBB requested that DOT replace the “bus exempt” sign at the intersection of Sunset and western Marquez, according to an internal e-mail between City officials and the Santa Monica bus service. The BBB requested that the sign be left up until the alternatives reviewed by DOT were approved and said that failure to replace the sign would force BBB buses to use the controversial detour through the Marquez neighborhood.
DOT press representatives said on Monday they were trying to learn exactly when the “bus exempt” sign was removed and exactly what was being studied at the intersection. DOT did not give the Palisadian-Post details of these studies, or alternatives.
Regardless, Post sources close to the project said that DOT is studying several alternatives in an effort to reduce the dangers of this intersection, which is located east of the stretch on Sunset known to locals as “Dead Man’s Curve.”
Last Friday, the BBB stopped offering service at the following stops on westbound Sunset: Marquez (Baylor), Livorno Drive, Salerno Drive and Arno Way. Passengers traveling westbound have to reach these destinations on the return trip. The BBB also posted on announcement on its Web site that this detour is temporary but gave no end date as to the change in service. The new route also includes a layover just east of western Marquez on the eastbound side of Sunset.
On Monday, while BBB drivers declined to turn left off Marquez because of DOT’s refusal to replace the exempt sign, Metro buses were still continuing their strange U-turn practice. However, the Metro detour went into effect Wednesday.
“Metro was continuing to use that turnaround hoping that an agreement with DOT could be reached, but since it’s not we’re discontinuing [our westbound Sunset] service,” said Metro spokesperson Anna Chen.
Mike Stryer, a Marquez Knolls resident, told the Post in an e-mail, “Now we have buses going every hour between roughly 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., including on weekends, through a heavily residential part of Pacific Palisades, through a congested business area, through school crosswalks, past a preschool, past two elementary schools (Lycee and Marquez), through four stop signs—all because of an accident caused by a [speeding] motorcyclist. Talk about a horrible decision!”
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