The city wants to give pedestrians more room and separate them from cars on the crowded Santa Monica Pier deck.
It will double the width of the northern sidewalk and install a concrete barrier between it and car lanes as a temporary fix until the pier deck—the bridge that goes underneath the iconic pier sign from Ocean Avenue to the wooden pier itself—is completely replaced in 2016.
The City Council approved the interim plan on Tuesday night at the cost of $150,000. It is hiring Meek Shea, Joint Venture, to do the work. That's the same company that's gearing up to demolish and reconstruct a a long section of the pier from the high tide line.
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Planning Director Martin Pastucha said the police department is worried the existing 4-foot sidewalks doesn't accommodate all of the people walking on the bridge. "Pedestrians often walk in the adjacent vehicle lanes," he said.
The police are concerned about "the potential conflict between pedestrians and vehicles in the event a driver was to lose control of a vehicle," he wrote in a memo to the council.
Built in 1939, the pier deck will be completely redone in 2016 with a federal transportation grant funding improvements to pedestrian, bicycle, and car access.
The plans for that project are still being drawn up.
In the interim, the northern sidewalk will be extended from 4.33 feet to 9.33 feet. Drawings included in Pastucha's memo show the new sidewalk will fit two adults and two children.
The City Council had previously talked about getting cars off the pier deck completely by removing the pier deck parking lot and replacing it with a garage at a city-owned plot north of the pier, adjacent to Lot 1N. But those plans are on hold as the city balances a growing budget deficit in the wake of losing the community redevelopment agency.
At the time, former councilman Bobby Shriver suggested staffers might be exaggerating how unsafe it is for pedestrians to share the pier ramp with cars.