In an effort to maximize visitor safety, some new improvements have been added to the entrances of farmers markets in Santa Monica.

The new features, which include new signs and a structure resembling tennis court nets at each of the markets’ entrances, were unveiled April 30 and represent the city’s ongoing commitment to market safety, officials said.

The latest improvements come nearly seven years after George Russell Weller, then 86, drove through a crowded downtown farmers market on Arizona Avenue, killing 10 people and injuring dozens more in July 2003.

In addition to the nets, which will be used in Santa Monica for the first time at a farmers market, there will be additional pedestrian signs and enhanced traffic directional signs approaching each of the farmers market sites. These enhancements are features of an innovative Traffic Control Plan, designed by local engineering firm Crain and Associates specifically for the farmers market, officials noted. The nets are often used on the East Coast for highway construction/road safety projects.

“The Traffic Control Plan project has been an excellent collaboration between multiple city departments,” said farmers market supervisor Laura Avery. “We are always working on making our fabulous market even better. This is the latest example.”

Normal farmers market operations and access will not be affected by the new Traffic Control Plan. Farmers market staff worked closely with the city of Santa Monica’s engineering and traffic departments and the design team to ensure that the required nine-foot “clear zone” between the nets and the market boundary would not take away any farmer selling spaces, officials said.

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