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Santa Monica Celebrates New Expo Line, Carless Alternatives

Downtown Meeting June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center. www.downtownsmplan.org


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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP


Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

 

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

June 7, 2016 -- Normally car-clogged Santa Monica cleared nearly two miles of all cars Sunday in an open streets festival that celebrated riding bikes, walking and hopping a ride to the coast on the new Expo Light Rail line to downtown.

Crowds at the “Coast” festival – and a lot of TV news cameras – even got a glimpse of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders hitching a ride late in the day on the Santa Monica Pier carousel with his grandchildren.

The senator from Vermont shook hands and stopped for photos during a stroll of more than an hour along shops, restaurants and amusement park rides, reminding onlookers to vote Tuesday in California’s primary.


Photos courtesy City of Santa Monica

Sunday’s events were meant as a glimpse of what life not dominated by single-occupant vehicles might look like –- a “multi-modal” future Santa Monica City leaders have been championing for years.

The festivities started in the morning with a ribbon cutting officially opening the city’s Colorado Esplanade.

The strip runs from the Downtown Santa Moni

ca Expo station on 5th Street and Colorado to Ocean Avenue and creates a seamless walk or bike ride from the station to the Promenade, Tongva Park and the Pier.

The new $13 million esplanade -- which features 25-foot wide sidewalks with yellow and black wave-like pavers and strings of lights -- was the star of the show, but the entire day was a reminder of life before automobiles began their decades-long reign, especially in car-centric California.

"I saw thousands of smiling faces sharing the joy of traffic-free streets, if only for the day,” said Santa Monica City Council Member Kevin McKeown. “Main Street and Ocean Avenue were a constant stream of walkers, skaters, and bikes.”

For Council Member Pam O’Connor, who has long championed light rail and alternative forms of transit as a former member of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the day was full of fun ("Former Santa Monica Mayor On Board Train from the Start," May 20, 2016).

"Sustainable art and info on mobility choices complemented Active Transportation--with streams of people of all ages walking, biking, skating, skateboarding and having fun," O'Connor said. "The 'Happy People in a Happy City' came out to celebrate."

Not that the event was a free ride. “Coast” was hosted by Metro, the county transit agency, but the City pitched in more than $200,000 for the event ("Santa Monica Poised to Spend Nearly Half a Million on Expo Party," March 21, 2016).

It also signed a $500,000 contract with GOOD Worldwide to advertise and market the new light rail system that arrived in the City May 20, as well as alternative modes of transportation ("Santa Monica Hires Media Firm for Expo," March 7, 2016).


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