Traffic safety issues impede Farmer’s Market potential move to Bixby Knolls area

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Joseph Serna, Staff Writer

While barriers during street events are primarily used to delay car traffic, in Dale Whitney’s case it’s delaying his Farmer’s Market relocation.
In mid-February Whitney submitted his application to the city of Long Beach for moving his Thursday Farmer’s Market to the access road near the Atlantic Avenue and 45th Way intersection.
Business at Thursday’s market, currently in the Long Beach health department parking lot at 2525 Grand Avenue, has dropped in recent years.
However, since February’s submittal, Whitney and Long Beach have failed to resolve a critical safety issue: barriers for automobiles.
“We don’t want another Santa Monica incident,” said Blair Cohn, Long Beach special events coordinator. Cohn was referring to the 2003 incident where an elderly man lost control of his car and plowed through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market killing 10 people.
While no one debates the need for barriers, Whitney cites the immense monthly cost for the city’s recommended form of barricade-water-filled K-rails-as the reason for the delay.
Water-filled K-rails have a similar shape to concrete medians, but are orange and white plastic filled with water-Cohn estimated it would cost Whitney $700 a week for the city to fill, place and remove the rails.
“I think the item they require now at this tremendous fee is worthless,” Whitney said.
The safety precautions the market would require in Bixby Knolls differ from where the market is now because it would be considered a street event, rather than something out of traffic’s way in a parking lot. Cohn said they have to consider what would stop a car.
“Obviously public safety is the No. 1 concern,” he said.
“Some kind of barrier is going to be there,” said Jonathan Kraus, a staff member for 8th District Councilwoman Rae Gabelich’s office. “It’s a matter of finding an acceptable barrier.”
Kraus said the District is looking forward to hosting the weekly Farmer’s Market, and also understands Whitney’s concerns over the cost.
Cohn said the issue is now in the hands of Public Works, who will go out to the site next month and review possible alternatives to the K-rails, possibly concrete planters or concrete pylons.
The issue, like many other in the city, is being put on hold through the end of the month, Cohn said. Right now Long Beach is focusing on hosting another successful Long Beach Grand Prix.