When riders aboard the hop off a train at the Colorado Boulevard and Fourth Street station, they'll descend down amphitheater steps and onto a 55-foot wide pedestrian sidewalk along Colorado.
They'll head west on decorative pavers, the blue and white Santa Monica Yacht Harbor sign within plain view, a bike path immediately to the right and cars—restricted to one-way westbound traffic—in the far left lane. Trees, perhaps palms, will line either side of the thoroughfare, and lights will be strung overhead.
They could also choose to head south to Ocean Avenue, where they'll continue walking on widened sidewalks (though they won't be the super-sized ones on Colorado) as they skirt the future Palisades Garden Walk park.
The expanded sidewalks are among the newest features of the design schematics for the future Colorado Esplanade. The thoroughfare is supposed to function as a new gateway into downtown as it connects the Expo station to Ocean Avenue, the pier and the Palisades Garden Walk.
"This design really looks nice," said Mayor Richard Bloom. "I've been anticipating seeing this for a long time."
"We've moved away some of the initial concept which included having a monument for the station and everything else flow from that. The station is very clearly now something that is there for transportation purposes," he continued, noting that he wanted to see an emphasis placed on a sense of departure, too.
Architect Adam Greenspan presented the latest esplanade plans to the City Council on Tuesday night. Greenspan represents PWP Landscape Architecture, the renowned firm behind the 9/11 memorial in New York City, and that more recently won a $2.2-million contract with the city of Santa Monica to design the Colorado Esplanade.
"For the first time as a council we're looking at what it's going to be like to come into a Santa Monica that's not car dominated," said Councilman Kevin McKeown. "This is an exciting moment in the process."
He cited concerns that there might be conflicts among the mix of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, especially at the corner of Second and Main streets, which could be aligned into a single intersection. The alignment, PWP said, would improve the flow of vehicular traffic into downtown and improves access to the
Up to 400 people are expected to traverse the esplanade every five to seven minutes during peak hours, Greenspan said.
There will be room for the wide sidewalks, PWP said, because it proposes restricting vehicular traffic on Colorado to westbound travel only. The existing northbound right turn from Ocean Avenue onto Colorado Avenue will be removed, as will the southbound turn pocket currently on Ocean Avenue.
"If we're going to have one-way traffic, great, but it will have significant impacts elsewhere," said Councilman Bobby Shriver, who asked to see traffic studies at future study sessions.
Bicycle routes also get a lot of attention in the esplanade design.
Dedicated lanes for cyclists are proposed in both directions along Colorado. There's also a proposal for a bike connection through the Fourth Court alley to connect the station to the bike lanes on Broadway Boulevard. Additionally, the Main to Second Street realignment could connect the Main Street bike lane directly to the new Bike Center and downtown.
"The bikes are treated really well. Keeping them on the south side seems really smart to me," said Councilman Terry O'Day. "This is a really terrific step forward."
PWP representatives told the council Tuesday that there's still a "fair amount of designing left to do." It will continue to refine its drawings with input from the City Council and its advisory boards and commissions.