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Major Redo of California Incline Approved

Santa Monica City Council approves environmental reports, paving the way for construction. The crumbling arterial will close for 12-18 months as the bridge is replaced and widened.

A critical facelift of the California Incline—one of the primary access points into downtown Santa Monica—was approved this week by the Santa Monica City Council.

The route connecting Ocean Avenue to Pacific Coast Highway will close in late 2013 or early 2014 for 12-18 months of demolition and construction. The looming closure is a major concern for residents locally, and those living in the Santa Monica Canyon and Pacific Palisades.

City officials plan to have construction crews work beyond the hours permitted under city code to complete the work quicker, but will not ask for around-the-clock work as proposed by neighbors to the north.

"The faster the better," canyon resident Dawn Forrester told the council Tuesday night.

With unanimous votes, the council adopted environmental reports needed for federal and state design and construction funds and approved a $2.58 million contract with Wallace, Roberts and Todd, Inc. for the projects' civil, traffic and geotechnical design.

Simply repairing the old, deteriorating bridge "is out of the question," so it will be completely rebuilt and widened by about 7 feet, said Santa Monica's Public Works Director Martin Pastucha.

Additionally, an 800-foot section of the bluff at the bottom half of the incline will be stabilized. "It’s very obvious that this 80-year-old bridge is reaching the end of its useful life," said City Engineer Lee Swain.

City staffers and Caltrans are changing course based on public input on the type of materials they will use when replacing the bridge. A cast-in-place concrete slab is the new material of choice because it will require less construction time, they said in a report to the council. 

An average of 20,000 cars traverse the incline daily, so transportation officials' have come up with a plan to reroute traffic onto Moomat Ahiko Way and 10 Freeway ramps. Additionally, they will:

  • Synchronize traffic signals along Ocean Avenue
  • Install changeable message boards at least one month in advance to advise drivers what the detours will be
  • Assign traffic officers as necessary
  • Provide real-time information to online mapping companies, such as those that work with car navigations and cell phone software
  • Install cameras to monitor live traffic in the Santa Monica Canyon
  • Place detour signs along the 101 and 10 freeways

City staffers are asking that construction take place from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays.  They estimate the extended hours would expedite construction by about 25 percent above the option of working during standard city construction hours.

Mayor Bloom promised an open dialog with Pacific Palisades residents, who have aired concerns that construction will bring traffic on Sunset Boulevard through the Palisades to a complete standstill.

Others have said the project will deter them from visiting Santa Monica entirely.

"A lot of us that live in the northern part of the city use the Incline on a daily basis," said councilman Robert Holbrook. "We're going to be stuck rearranging our lives, too."

Glenn E Grab July 14, 2012 at 05:37 PM
this will be a traffic nightmare
Santa Monica Resident July 15, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Finally! A win for the good guys.
Glenn E Grab July 15, 2012 at 04:38 PM
dear SM resident, please explain why this construction is needed.....thanks, maybe I don't get it....
GSGETSIT July 16, 2012 at 06:07 PM
And the California Incline redo discussion continues... I was reading about the rebuilding of the California Incline and all the side effects.... I would like to offer an alternate plan, even though the reconstruction seems to be set in stone. Maybe an alternate plan can still be considered.... here goes.... Build a new incline down to the Pacific Coast..... Call it the Wilshire Incline..... This will accomplish four things..... First, the California Incline can remain open and the traffic problems will be a lot less affected.... Second, The Wilshire incline will be a proper extension of Wilshire Blvd from downtown LA to the Pacific Coast.... Third, this will eventually decrease traffic thru the areas NORTH of Wilshire Blvd..... Fourth, once the Wilshire Incline is completed the California Incline can be demolished safely. I realize this discussion about the California Incline has gone on for a long time; but I believe this alternate plan is workable and must be considered even if this delays the construction... Sincerely.... Mr. Potik ...Gordon Santa Monica.... a concerned and thoughtful Santa Monica Resident gaptidbits@yahoo.com
N Vilgiate August 21, 2012 at 12:20 AM
This is really going to be frustrating for everyone in the area. I don't trust government officials and my bet is that it will take longer and be more expensive.

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