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Scaled Back Santa Monica Esplanade Gets Hearing Wednesday  


By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

June 5, 2012 -- Santa Monica's Planning Commission will take a look at a radically scaled down Colorado Esplanade plan Wednesday night in the wake of the loss of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funds earlier this year.

By dipping into a $12.5 reserve, Santa Monica will be able to move ahead with the project, which will widen sidewalks and shave riving lanes on the stretch of Colorado Avenue west of Fifth Street in anticipation of the arrival of the Expo Light Rail line in 2016  

Staff estimates that the Esplanade will cost $5.7 million, part of which will be funded by grants. That's half of the original planned cost $10 million of redevelopment funding and $3.3 million of secured Metro grant funding, according to City staff.

“Improvements made to the capital budgeting process and the one-time use of a $12.5 million capital reserve has enabled the City to move forward with projects originally anticipated to be funded with redevelopment funds,” staff wrote.

The esplanade will be used by an estimated 400 passengers who are expected to get off the train every five minutes at the western-most station in the Expo line from Downtown Los Angeles.

“The Colorado Esplanade is a multi-modal streetscape and circulation infrastructure project that fully integrates the downtown Light Rail station by providing optimal access for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles in and around the station area,” staff said.

The Esplanade is meant to handle foot, vehicle and bicycle traffic, all of which is expected to increase with the coming Expo line.

Colorado Avenue will be reduced to a west-bound only street after Fifth Street, the future location of the terminal station.

The Esplanade will also include dedicated bike lanes, widened sidewalks and will be designed to direct pedestrian traffic toward Santa Monica's Downtown.

“The improvements will integrate the Civic Center, Downtown, and Pier/Oceanfront districts, and create a gateway to Downtown Santa Monica.

The City has categorized the Esplanade project under the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget.

“Projects included in the CIP budget are those with costs in excess of $50,000, with a useful life of more than three years, and involving Public Works construction,” staff wrote.

“This proposed biennial Capital Improvement Program budget will ensure that Santa Monica’s
infrastructure continues to be maintained and improvement projects will be constructed to the level
and quality that its residents and businesses have come to expect,” staff wrote.

The Esplanade design will go before the City Council for final approval on July 10. If the council approves the design, the City will begin to move the construction process forward.

Staff estimates that the Esplanade could be finished by 2014, two years ahead of the scheduled arrival of the Expo line in Santa Monica.

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