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California Incline Bridge Project To Follow Palisades Bluffs Project:

Work on the California Incline Bridge project is not expected to begin until after June 2009.

So say City officials.

City documents state “the Palisades Bluffs Improvement Project involves the implementation of geotechnical improvements to the Palisades Bluffs from the McClure Tunnel to the northwest boundary of the City of Santa Monica to reduce the risk of future landslides and bluff erosion.” According to the Draft Environmental Impact Report, the California Incline project “will consist of building a new incline to replace the existing but deteriorated incline in order to meet current seismic standards.”

The schedule for the Incline project was determined when the Santa Monica City Council approved a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Palisades Bluffs Improvement Project in August of 2007, which requires that the Bluffs project be completed before the Incline project begins. The Bluffs project cannot begin until approvals are obtained for three required permits.

An application for the most important permit, the Caltrans Encroachment Permit, was submitted by the City of Santa Monica earlier this month. This permit requires a Traffic Control Plan and signage/lane closure plans. The other two permits include a Coastal Commission Permit that the City hopes to obtain approval of between early spring and late summer, and a Water Discharge Permit (WDP), which has already been approved. The WDP involves the disposal of the water that will be drained out of the bluffs.

Once all the permits are obtained, the City will advertise the Bluffs project for construction bids and then the Council will award the construction contract.

A consortium of agencies with planned projects that will impact Pacific Coast Highway has been formed called PCH Partners. Members include the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica, the Los Angles Department of Water and Power, and Caltrans. Santa Monica’s Principal Engineer Mark Cuneo told the Mirror the consortium was formed in response to the need for information expressed by the community and will be an “outlet for consolidated information on all projects.” They currently meet once a month, are creating a website, and may publish a newsletter.

The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the California Incline project is expected to be available for community input in the spring, which will be prior to its review by the City Council. Cuneo mentioned that there “could be another community meeting before the FEIR goes to the Council.”

Cuneo stated that Caltrans’ Structural Maintenance and Investigations Division inspects bridges every two years. They rated the California Incline Bridge as “structurally deficient” seismically and for the ability to carry loads. On a sufficiency rating of one to 100, the California Incline Bridge, built in 1930, received a rating of 31.5.

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