Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica Embarks on Final Esplanade Phase

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 17, 2015 -- A $13 million makeover of Colorado Avenue near Santa Monica’s final Light Rail stop is entering its final stage and should be completed by next April in time for the train’s arrival, City officials announced this month.

The Colorado Esplanade is meant to create a festive promenade from the future terminus of the Expo Light rail line on 5th Street to the Santa Monica Pier, according to a report updating the ambitious project.

The project, which broke ground in March, will widen sidewalks, add bike and pedestrian lanes and remove eastbound car traffic from Fifth Street to the Pier, City officials said. Work on the Esplanade has gone fairly smoothly and is on schedule, they said.

“It will be completed by the time the Metro Line begins operating,” said Ned Racine, community relations manager for the project.

The project includes realigning Second and Main Streets as well as remodeling Colorado Avenue between Ocean Avenue and 4th street and connecting the coming Expo Light Rail station south to Tongva Park and west to the Santa Monica Pier.

Key components are widening sidewalks to between 20 and 30 feet to accommodate an anticipated rise in pedestrian traffic and adding a “cycle track” that provides bike lanes for both directions.

Construction of the project is being funded by a combination of City money and a grant from Metro, Los Angeles County’s transportation agency.

In a report to the City Council earlier this month, Director of Public Works Martin Pastucha said the project was split into two stages to help cut down on disruptions on the heavily-used street.

First, workers tackled the northbound side of the Colorado, shifting traffic to the southbound side, Pastucha said. The work included installing new decorative pavers, wood decking, trees and an asphalt roadway.

The second phase will focus on the south side while diverting traffic to the north side of Colorado Avenue. The work is expected to be completed by November 25, before the Thanksgiving holiday, the report said.

A transition phase – which began Monday -- will involve two sub-phases, one of them temporarily eliminating the left turn from westbound Colorado Avenue onto southbound Main Street.

“This closure and elimination of this left turn is expected to last the majority of the roughly two month transition time,” Pastucha said.

A final sub-phase will completely shut down access from Colorado Avenue to Main Street for a four to five day period to complete the realigned roadway construction and final striping, officials said. 

By November 25, the rebuilt roadway will be fully open to vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic for the north and southbound traffic connection from 2nd Street to Main Street, according to the report.

During both phases of the transition, southbound access to Main Street near City Hall will require using Olympic Drive by way of Ocean Avenue or 4th Street, the report said.

Once completed, the second phase will kick in, adding new decorative pavers, landscaping, trees, concrete sidewalks, a separated two-way bike path, a realigned roadway from Main Street to 2nd Street and festival string lighting, the report said.

It is the sight that will greet those departing from the Metro Line when they reach the Santa Monica terminus, Racine said. “It’s beautiful,” he said.

According to the report, the City launched a “public outreach” program for the project earlier this month, contacting residents, businesses and others of all changes via message boards, fliers and in-person meetings.

City staff worked with an outside public relations firm to prepare graphics and other means of reaching the public.  That included construction notices send to about 175 “stakeholders,” many of them businesses; emails to all City employees; updates through, Twitter, and Facebook, and the mailing of post cards that included project area maps.

Changeable message signs will be installed in the vicinity of the project to notify drivers of the changes planned for September 14.

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