Traffic impacts from the construction of the California Incline project may be intensified by the construction of two other City projects whose tentative construction timelines overlap with that of the California Incline project.
The tentative construction timeline for the California Incline is from March 2009 through January 2010. Construction on the Palisades Bluffs Improvement project is set to begin in April of 2008 and end in July of 2009 while construction of the Pier Bridge project is tentatively set to start in March of 2009 and end in April of 2010.
Mark Cuneo, the City of Santa Monica’s Principal Civil Engineer, told the Mirror that the City “will revisit the potential overlap of the projects” so it can “coordinate the projects for the least possible impact to the residents and others who pass through Santa Monica on the effected routes.”
The City’s Director of Environmental and Public Works Management, Craig Perkins, stated, “The issue is not the overlap of the projects but rather whether negative impacts will occur due to the overlap. We’re talking about projects not beginning construction until 2009. We have time to figure out how to minimize the impacts.” He then pointed out that one way to mitigate the traffic impacts would be either to have construction on the California Incline be done “on an accelerated schedule” or to have extended hours for construction on some of the projects. However, the “trade-offs” would have to be weighed for these options because accelerated construction would be more expensive and extended hours can cause other negative impacts for nearby residents.
Perkins also emphasized that the “consensus is these projects need to be done due to the condition of the bridges and the bluffs. The City did not plan for all these projects to line up” at the same time. “That’s just how the process worked out.”
Cuneo stated that CALTRANS’ Structural Maintenance and Investigations division inspects the bridges every two years. They found that both the California Incline and the Pier Bridge have been rated as “structurally deficient” in two categories: the ability to carry loads and seismically. On a sufficiency rating of 1 to 100, the California Incline received a rating of 31.5 and the Pier Bridge a rating of 22.6. In addition, the Pier Bridge is functionally obsolete because it “doesn’t meet the current geometric standards for the width of lanes and sidewalks.”
Both Perkins and Cuneo mentioned that the environmental documents for the bluffs project would be coming to the City Council on August 14, and the documents for both bridge projects will be reviewed in the fall. During their review, the Council will have the opportunity to discuss the traffic impacts and how to deal with them.