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Santa Monica Prepares for the Future

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Second of two parts: Upcoming Public Projects

By Jorge Casuso

April 25, 2013 -- It will be easier to get in and out of Santa Monica, thanks to several major public projects slated to be started over the next three years in the beachside City.

With the expected arrival of the Expo Light Rail line in early 2016, work is set to start on the pedestrian walkway that will greet passengers stepping off the train. When they head towards the water, they will enter the Pier by crossing a new bridge.

And motorists exiting the Downtown onto Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) will have a new incline bridge to cross.


Colorado Esplanade
When passengers exit the new Expo light rail station Downtown, they will step onto a newly constructed Colorado Esplanade that will expand bicycle and pedestrian facilities and feature landscaping and public art.

The esplanade — which will connect to Ocean Avenue, the Pier and the Civic Center — will turn Colorado Avenue into a one-way street westbound from 5th Street to Ocean Avenue. It also will include a 40-foot-wide sidewalk on the south side of the street.

Down Town Santa Monica Future Train Station

Downtown Future Expo Light Rail line Station. (Images courtesy City of Santa Monica.)

Peter Walker, the project’s lead designer, promises a public space that has “a character, a dignity and a festivity about it” and that includes design features that direct passengers leaving the train platform toward the central shopping district.

Construction for this project is anticipated to begin in 2014 and be completed in 2015, in advance of the Expo light rail completion, City officials said.

California Incline Replacement
Also slated for Downtown is a long-anticipated project to replace the 80-year-old California Incline bridge that connects California Avenue to PCH. The existing 750-foot-long bridge on the 1,400-foot-long incline does not meet current seismic standards. The new structure will include a wider sidewalk and bicycle lanes.

Santa Monica PCH Incline
California Incline.

“The condition of the existing California Incline Bridge is poor and the deteriorated condition of the bridge makes corrective action necessary,” City staff said.

City officials are exploring a range of measures to mitigate traffic congestion when the ramp is closed for construction. They include placing traffic officers at the intersection, synchronizing traffic signals along Ocean Avenue and installing detour signage along PCH.

But officials acknowledge that “there are no mitigation measures that would minimize the traffic and transportation impacts to a less-than-significant level during construction.” Construction is estimated to begin in the fall of 2013 and will last between 12 and 18 months.

Pier Bridge
The Pier bridge, which was constructed in the early 1940s and is the primary route for pedestrians getting to the landmark structure, is also slated for replacement.

While City officials are busy designing the $8.35 million project, the City Council last month approved a series of improvements to enhance the safety of pedestrians, bicycles and vehicular traffic on the existing bridge.

The safety improvements include closing or limiting access to vehicles on the bridge and adjacent pier, shifting vehicle lanes to the south side, removing the sidewalks on the bridge and providing a wider pedestrian walkway on the north side of the bridge.

The City also will install a temporary concrete barrier between the vehicle lanes and the pedestrian walkway and improve signage and roadway markings.

“The bridge has very narrow sidewalks (that) are inadequate to accommodate the volume of pedestrians traveling to and from the Pier,” officials said.

Replacement of the bridge — which extends approximately 500 feet west from the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Colorado Avenue — is scheduled to begin in 2016.

When the Downtown projects are completed five years from now, City officials trust that the detours and traffic adjustments will have been well worth it for the City’s residents, workers and visitors.

“There’s a lot going on Downtown, a lot to look forward to,” Vernez said. “These projects will improve access and change the face of Downtown.”

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