Light rail is scheduled to arrive in Santa Monica by 2015 and with it will come many challenges and opportunities particularly for Santa Monica’s Downtown and Civic Center area.On May 11 the community members gave input to the City on how to deal with the challenges and opportunities the new light rail station at 4th and Colorado will present. City consultant Bob Odermatt from The Odermatt Group emphasized that this station will be the “single most important thing that will influence the downtown area over the next 20 years.” He predicted that about “400 hundred people per day will be arriving at the 4th Street station to come to the Pier, Santa Monica Place” or elsewhere in Downtown Santa Monica. As a result a key challenge will be how to handle this increase in pedestrian traffic and how to route car traffic around the 4th street station.Community members agreed that that the station should have an urban plaza that should feel like a welcoming point to Santa Monica and include a view of the Pier sign. In addition, the City should improve the quality of the pedestrian experience in Downtown and the Civic Center area by widening the sidewalks, planting trees, and having places to rest. They also suggested improving the biking and mass transit access in those areas as well as having a pedestrian bridge to Santa Monica Place. There was also an idea to have a beach trolley cart available at the station to help pedestrians carry beach equipment. Members of the community also suggested addressing the traffic issue on 4th Street by forcing most cars off at 5th Street and forcing then to turn left on 4th Street rather than right. When it came to parking in the area a suggestion was made to have shuttles and trolleys help with Civic Center circulation so that there would be better access to available area parking. There was disagreement between community members as to whether there should be more or less parking, where to place the parking and on how to handle parking fees. However, most agreed that having people walk a few blocks to parking would be okay. There was even a suggestion to reconfigure the Santa Monica Place parking garage so people could drive into it from Main Street.Suggestions were also made about decking the 10 Freeway in order to connect the Downtown and Civic Center areas. These suggestions included having a park area on the deck and placing the Downtown light rail terminus station there.
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