The City of Santa Monica will be making eight blocks of pedestrian and streetscape improvements along 2nd and 4th streets between Wilshire Boulevard and Colorado Avenue.
Approval for the design of the project was given by the City Council in October 2005. The City staff report from that meeting states: “The project is intended to further enhance the pedestrian environment within the downtown area, encourage pedestrian circulation beyond the Third Street Promenade and improve the pedestrian experience for the patrons of the many transit lines that run through downtown.” The project is called the 2nd and 4th Streets Pedestrian Streetscape Project, and is also known as the Pedestrian Extension to the Downtown Transit Mall.
The City began receiving federal funding for the project in 1999, but since that time costs have increased so additional funding has become necessary. The current project costs have been estimated at $7,661,639, with a projected shortfall of $2,308,061. At the recent February 6 meeting, the Council approved the use of Community Development Block Grant Funds from the 2007-08 fiscal year budget to meet the shortfall.
Part of the project will include making changes to the trees that line the streets targeted for improvement. The City’s Director of Environmental and Public Works Management, Craig Perkins, told the Council 15 trees will be removed, 19 trees will be removed and relocated and 152 trees will be planted. The costs for this tree work will be $737,000.
Councilmember Kevin McKeown voted against appropriating the additional funds for the project because he was concerned that the reasons for removing healthy trees are “unclear” and therefore, “Using almost three quarters of a million dollars to cut down healthy trees is not the wisest use of public funds.”
Components of the project will include improved pedestrian lighting, placing curb extensions at mid-block crosswalks, access lamp upgrades, and up-lighting of art, sculptures and trees. This project will be coordinated with other 2nd and 4th streets projects, including the remodel of Santa Monica Place and the seismic upgrade and construction of the parking structures along the project’s route.
Caltrans is currently reviewing the project. Once its review and approval are complete the project must go through the same process with the Federal Highway Administration. After that, the City will put the project up for bids by construction firms. Construction should begin in the fall of this year.