The late former Hermosa Beach city councilman and civic watchdog Roger Creighton is getting his wish for better protection for pedestrians on the plaza from a runaway vehicle.
The Hermosa Beach City Council last week decided to replace the lightweight barriers along Hermosa Avenue with heavy-duty barriers, which will guard Pier Plaza from the sort of runaway vehicle that crashed onto the Manhattan Beach Pier Nov. 1.
The bollards along Hermosa Avenue at Pier Plaza will soon be replaced with heavy-duty barriers. Photo by Ed Pilolla.
In that incident, the driver of a Cadillac lost his brakes and plowed through a lightweight barrier at the entrance of the Manhattan Beach Pier. No one was seriously hurt, but the accident served as a wake-up call to city officials, who remember that an elderly driver in Santa Monica in 2003 hit the gas instead of brakes and lost control of his Buick LeSabre. The driver plowed into a crowded Farmer’s Market, killing ten people and injuring 63, leading to $21 million in settlements.
Creighton, a councilman in the 1980s, wrote to the City Council in May 2005 that a row of heavy-duty barriers “is the only sure way to keep vehicles from running wild through the pier plaza for a repeat of the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market disaster.”
Creighton wrote at least one more letter calling for better protection before he died in August 2006.
After Creighton died, city hall watchdog Howard Longacre picked up the issue and wrote several letters.
The new 42-inch high barriers, called bollards, are designed to withstand a 15,000-pound vehicle at 30 mph. Emergency vehicles will still have access to the plaza by driving around the ten new barriers, just as authorized vehicles do now to get around the five ornamental barriers.
Replacing them will cost up to $118,000, according to a public works report.
The concern is that down-hill Pier Avenue leads directly to the plaza, which the city created as a pedestrian walkway in the late 1990s. On Sept. 24, a drunk driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the traffic signal box at Hermosa and Pier avenues, knocking out the traffic signals at the intersection for more than 24 hours.
The bollards on the Manhattan Beach pier that didn’t stop the runaway Cadillac last month are very similar to the ones presently guarding Hermosa’s Pier Plaza, Hermosa Beach city officials said.
“They were useless, just as ours are,” Hermosa Beach City Council member Peter Tucker said.
City Council members, who selected a design for the new, crash-resistant bollards with underground steel reinforcement, say they will provide peace of mind.
“If you’ve ever watched a crash test of these, and I have, there’s nothing left of the car,” Tucker said. “The post is still there, but the car is going to the scrap heap.”
Just as Hermosa Beach is upgrading its downtown barriers, so is Manhattan Beach.
A bollard was knocked over at the entrance of the Manhattan Beach Pier Nov. 1 by a runaway 1970s Cadillac. Photo by Esther Kang.
Juan Price, public works maintenance supervisor for Manhattan Beach, said that the “lightweight” bollard that the Cadillac knocked over Nov. 1 did help slow the vehicle down. Still, Price said the city wants to replace and upgrade the strength of the bollards at the entrance of the pier.
“We are looking to beef them up,” Price said. “They will be more substantial than what we have now.”