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Whole Lotta City Projects Goin’ On 2009:

A group of Santa Monicans recently got the opportunity to tour some of the City’s capital improvement projects.

The tour began at the Main Library and highlighted projects adjacent to the beach.  The first stop was the Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach which opened last April. The 5-acre facility contains the rehabilitated historic Marion Davies Guest House, a swimming pool, meeting rooms, a children’s play area, volleyball courts, upgrades to the existing beach café, and other facilities.

On the way to the Beach House the tour passed the Palisades Bluffs which are scheduled to be stabilized by a project that will begin after Labor Day.  The project will involve improving bluff drainage by collecting water that seeps from the bluff face, causing erosion.  The City’s Director of Public Works, Lee Swain, explained that the bluffs have to be stabilized before work can begin on the rebuild of the California Incline Bridge.

 Work on the Incline is not scheduled to begin until either the fall of 2010 or the winter of 2011.  The project will now include geotechnical improvements to the slope above the Incline, which means the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DRIER) for the Incline project will have to be revised.  The updated DEIR is scheduled to be available in this fall for public review.

 Swain also mentioned that after the Incline is complete, work would begin on either a seismic retrofit or rebuild of the Pier Bridge.  The bridge is considered hazardous to pedestrians because of its narrow sidewalks and high curbs and the Expo Light Rail that is expected to be coming to Santa Monica in 2015 will be bring about 60,000 pedestrians to the City annually.  Therefore, “City staff is leaning towards making” the bridge accessible to only pedestrians.

Pier storm drain improvements were completed in May of 2009 so all-dry weather flow is eliminated from reaching the surf zone. This means the Pier storm drain is no longer a potential source of bacteria during the dry season and is no longer a possible contributor to the poor water quality adjacent to the Pier.  Also near completion are the new Pier restrooms which will open just prior to the Pier’s Centennial Celebration on September 9.

The tour also visited the City Yards which will soon be updated.  The City will be building a new material recycling facility that will be operated by the Allan Company.  They will also be adding a new self-haul facility and will be relocating the Household Hazardous Waste facility for a more convenient drop-off.  The Southern California Disposal Company will also expand solid waste transfer functions on the site.

Bergamot Station was also part of the tour because it is slated to become a station in the Expo Light Rail Phase II in 2015.  The City’s Assistant to the City Manager for Community and Government Relations, Kate Vernez, mentioned that the City considers placing a maintenance yard for the light rail’s cars in back of Bergamot station at 1800 Stewart Street opposite the City yards.

The Big Blue Bus Transportation Yard was one of the last projects covered by the tour.  Construction on its 65,300 square foot maintenance facility which will service Big Blue Bus Buses and Santa Monica Fire Engines will be complete in September.    

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