Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Council to Replace Bridge to Pier

 


Santa Monica officials are considering four designs to replace the 1939 era bridge, connecting downtown to the 100 year old pier. Officials regard the current bridge as antiquated, and desperatel in need of replacement. Over the years, a number of designs have been considered. In 1990, the council tabled discussions on it’s replacement, hoping CalTrans would provide the funding. That never materialized.

A 2006 proposal to rehabilitate the current bridge said 3667 pedestrians cross the bridge on a busy weekend day. One would expect even bigger crowds once the Expo Rail Red Line is completed in 2014, officials say.

In 2010, the council voted to apply for federal funding for a bridge replacement project. The Federal Highway Administration authorized funding in 2012, and the SM City Council did what they always do: Hired a consultant. This spring, the Council authorized funding for temporary upgrades to the bridge’s sidewalks to keep cars and pedestrians separate.

Public Works Director Martin Pastucha called the current bridge “substantially obsolete.”

“The sufficiency rating of the bridge is at 29,” he said. “Just for comparison purposes, bridges rated under 50 are not even eligible for rehabilitation due to the level of degradation.”

City officials agreed to spend $400,000 on an environmental review of the proposals, bringing the total spent on the design process to $1.25 million. No one has put forward an estimate for the cost of the bridge, but both design and construction expenses are expected to be reimbursed by the federal government.

The final design is expected to be complete by fall of 2016. Construction will take 12 to 18 months.

In November, 4 designs were presented to the City Council. Of the four options, two stood out most to members of the public, business community and city officials. One would widen the bridge by by 58 feet, or 70 percent, which of course would allow for more traffic to the already crowded pier.

“That creates, obviously, some issues when we come to tie back into the pier at the bottom of the bridge,” said Jim Rucker, a project consultant.

The bridge, he said, would be wider than the existing pier.

The second recommended design replaces the current bridge with a similar bridge meant only for bikes, pedestrians and limited delivery or emergency vehicles. It includes a second bridge at Moss Avenue for vehicles. The public and the Pier Control Board favored this design at previous presentations, city officials said. However, many local residents says Not in My Backyard, as it would increase traffic at Moss Avenue, though it would improves flow at the Ocean Avenue and Colorado Boulevard intersection.

“The current grade of the pier bridge is too steep and does not meet ADA standards. Anyone trying to get from Colorado Avenue to the pier either has to use a car or get help,” Consultant Pastucha said.

Former City Council member and Pier Board Chairwoman Judy Abdo, says she is especially concerned about ADA accessibility. “I think it’s critical that we have was for people to get on the pier that are safe for them,” she said.

One proposal favors installing an elevator that would elevate disabled people down to the beach level, allowing them to use an ADA-approved ramp up to the pier.

There is already an ADA-approved ramp from Ocean Front Walk up to the pier.

Currently, there is an elevator from the beach level up to Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant.

Several Ocean Front Walk business owners strongly opposed a Moss Avenue bridge, noting it would result in Ocean Front Walk properties being boxed in between two bridges and would block their views to the ocean.

 

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