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City Council to Look at Revised Plans for Santa Monica Esplanade

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

May 10, 2013 -- The Santa Monica City Council will vote Tuesday whether to approve the final design of the Colorado Esplanade, which staff revised after the loss of redevelopment (RDA) money halved its funding.

The plan -- which would turn Colorado Avenue west of the future Expo station into a one-way pedestrian and bicycle-friendly street -- was scaled back after the City’s commitment to fund the project dropped from $10 million to $5.7 million.

One major adjustment to the project was a “reduction in the first-phase footprint,” said Francie Stefan, the City's strategic and transportation planning manager.

As a result of the funding loss, staff decided to outline the project in multiple phases. The “core project” focuses entirely on the part of the Esplanade that extends from Ocean Avenue to the intersection at Colorado and Fourth Street, ending just before the site of the future Expo station.

The Expo Station “is outside of the scope of the Colorado Esplanade Project and will be constructed by the Expo Construction Authority, but the integration of the two projects is critical to the success of both projects,” staff said.

The “core project,” which staff estimates would cost $10.7 million, includes widening sidewalks, adding a buffered cycle track and realigning Main Street to connect directly with Second Street.

Of that $10.7 million, $9.7 million -- including a $3.3 million Metro grant -- is “secured pending Council approval” of the 2013-2014 annual budget, staff said.

The whole plan, which would include extending some of the features of the Esplanade -- such as wider sidewalks and way-finding signs north and east and improving the green space at 2nd and Main streets -- would cost a total of $13.5 million.

But those parts of the project would be added “over time as funds are available,” said Stefan.

Staff has already applied for a grant to fund $560,000 of infrastructure improvements north along Fourth Street, addressing concerns from the business community that travelers getting off the train should be able to find the Promenade as easily as the Pier.

Staff is seeking another grant to the tune of $850,000 to fund the Gateway Triangle, a green space planted with drought-tolerant plants on the south side of Colorado where Main Street connects with Second Street.

“We'd like to do all of those connecting pieces,” Stefan said. “This is very much a connectivity project.”

Staff has gone to great lengths to make sure that the project, despite the loss of funding, will be completed when the Expo Line arrives in Santa Monica in 2016. An estimated 400 passengers are expected to get off the train at Fifth Street and Colorado Avenue every five minutes.

By restricting car traffic to westbound travel only, widening sidewalks and adding a buffered cycle track, the Esplanade will offer a pedestrian-friendly area, connecting visitors to the Pier, the Promenade and to newly constructed Tongva Park to the south, officials said.

The Esplanade will provide “essential connectivity,” said Stefan.

If the City Council approves the plans, staff will put out a bid for construction of core project.

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