After multiple traffic fatalities, grassroots campaign wins new signal and crosswalks at Culver and Slauson

By Gary Walker

A busy Del Rey intersection that has been the site of five traffic-related deaths over a dozen years is now a safer place for drivers and pedestrians. Following a years-long grassroots campaign, city workers have installed a new traffic signal and painted high-visibility crosswalks at the ‘T’ intersection of Culver Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, about six blocks west of the 405 Freeway.

Natalia Aguilar, a grandmother who lived in Del Rey, was struck and killed by a car while trying to cross Culver on foot in October 2016. On May 1, Aguilar’s daughter Norma Diaz joined Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin to flip the switch that officially activated the new signal. Diaz credited the Mar Vista Family Center for helping her advocate for a traffic signal after her mother’s death.

“When my mom passed away I went to the center, and they told me they had tried to have a traffic light there before and that I should try again. Some of the people there helped me write a letter to Councilman Bonin, and then we started collecting signatures” for a petition, Diaz recalled. “There are a lot of kids and elderly people who live here in Del Rey, and there was no safe place to cross the street. We know they have them in other communities, so why not here?”

In addition to the traffic lights and crosswalk, city Department of Transportation employees installed curb ramps to make the intersection easier to navigate for pedestrians and people with disabilities.

Bonin said the improvements at Culver and Slauson were funded as part of his Westside Fast Forward initiative, a series of projects that include roadway and traffic-flow improvements to decrease traffic congestion and address safety issues.

In Aguilar’s memory, “we redoubled our commitment to making it safer to get around our neighborhoods,” Bonin said. “Westside Fast Forward is about mobility for all.”

Over many months of gathering signatures and staying in touch with council deputies, there were times that Diaz lost hope in the bureaucratic process of securing permits and funding.

“I have to admit that I did,” she said. “But I kept asking them about it, and finally it happened.”