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Santa Monica Gets $5.4 Million from Metro for Light Rail-Related Projects

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

November 21, 2013 -- New bike lanes, better traffic signals and more signs are just some of the improvements coming to Santa Monica after L.A. County Metro awarded City Hall $5.4 million in grants.

Metro announced in late September that it would fund four of the seven projects City Hall submitted to the County agency as part of 2013 Countywide Call for Projects, City officials said.

While City Hall will have to look elsewhere for money to pay for about $3.5 million in improvements to the future 17th Street Expo Light Rail station, including better lighting and a mobility hub, it can begin moving forward with other projects.

The lion’s share of the grant money, just under $2 million, will go toward the Expo bicycle path extension. The money will be available by 2018 through 2020.

“This project would fund a bikeway extension of the Expo bike path south along 17th Street to Pico Boulevard at Santa Monica College and westward along Michigan Avenue to Lincoln Boulevard,” staff said.

It will also help connect the Expo bike lane to the City’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway project, a planned overhaul of the residential street from the Bergamot Station Expo stop to Santa Monica High School.

But, the $2 million is just the start, staff said.

"We don't have project costs finalized," said Strategic and Transportation Planning Manager Francie Stefan. "Without having done the design yet, I don't really know” how much it might cost.

The grant money will likely go toward “intersection improvements, markings, wayfinding, landscaping, and roadway reconfiguration,” staff said.

The next biggest grant, about $1.6 million available between 2018 and 2020, will fund improvements to Fourth Street to help improve access to the future Expo Light rail station at Colorado Avenue in Downtown Santa Monica.

It will also help integrate the station and Fourth Street into the City’s proposed $10 million Colorado Esplanade project, a comprehensive overhaul of Colorado west of Fifth designed to slow traffic and increase pedestrian and bike access.

Santa Monica was also granted $1.2 million, available between 2016 and 2019, for projects to help passengers disembarking from trains at the three stations in the city find their way.

“This project would improve vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle circulation in the area surrounding the Expo stations by providing wayfinding signs, transit map cases, and electronic parking guidance signs,” staff said.

The new wayfinding funding may alleviate some who expressed concern that without it, visitors getting off the train in Downtown Santa Monica may not be able to find their way to the city’s Third Street Promenade.

Finally, Santa Monica will get $540,480 in 2018 to improve traffic signals for bicyclists.

“This project would install bicycle detection, and the related signage and striping modifications, at 20 to 30 intersections on transit corridors to reduce signal delay for transit and autos,” staff said.

While the City already has installed bike detection systems at about 30 percent of Santa Monica’s intersections, this grant would pay for about 15 percent more to be upgraded.

It wasn’t all good news from Metro, however. City Hall will have to start looking elsewhere to fund a $1.97 million lighting project for the 17 th Street Expo Station. Also, Santa Monica will have to find $1.6 million for a “mobility hub” at the location.

Since the 17th Street station is so close to Santa Monica College, the mobility hub, which Stefan described as a “one stop shop” for transit connections to the Expo Line, is a vital project.

“We will continue to apply for (funding),” Stefan said. “We think it's one of those facilities that is pretty high priority.”

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