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Santa Monica and Caltrans Form A Partnership:

The City of Santa Monica has a number of projects on the horizon that require working with Caltrans, so a partnership has been formed which includes quarterly meetings.

A study session was held at the August 11 City Council meeting to discuss some of their projects. A key project is the stabilization of Palisades Bluffs which is set to begin this October and be complete by Memorial Day of 2010.

The goal of this federally funded project is to remove groundwater that accumulates behind the bluff face in order minimize landslides by installing horizontal drains near the base of the bluffs adjacent to the Pacific Coast Highway north of the California Incline. The City has been advertising for construction bids and is anticipating having the City Council award the contract at their September 8 meeting. The City Staff report states that, “during construction, the north-bound outside lane (adjacent to the curb) of Pacific Coast Highway will be closed between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Thursday.”

Also in the works is the California Incline Replacement Project. A draft of the project’s environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA) was circulated for public comment in June 2007 according to the City Staff report. The project was then delayed because the Caltrans Division of Structures decided to require as part of the project that the slope above the Incline be stabilized to protect the new bridge and the public from landslides. This stabilization work was not included in the original EIR/EA so revised EIR/EA documents will be circulated this Fall.

Mayor Ken Genser reminded the City’s Director of Public Works, Lee Swain, that “when we adopted the [California Incline] project’s EIR before we deferred working on the traffic mitigation plan and promised there would be a significant public process so people could weigh in not only from our community but also from the Pacific Palisades… to devise the mitigations to best serve the public.” Swain agreed to help develop appropriate mitigations because the entire bridge will have to be closed while the new bridge is built.

The City hopes to receive bids and award the project’s construction contract in the Fall of 2010. Construction is expected to begin on the California Incline in the Winter 2010/2011 and will take approximately 12 months. Most of the project will be federally funded (88.53 percent) and the City will pay for the rest.

Lastly, the relinquishment of Lincoln Boulevard from the Santa Monica Freeway to the southerly City limits (approximately 1.2 miles) from Caltrans to the City was discussed. The City would like to have control over this roadway so they can improve its urban design, maintenance, and operation. If the State legislature approves the relinquishment by the end of 2009, City staff is hopeful they can complete the process with Caltrans in 2010.

City Manager Lamont Ewell remarked because of this new partnership “We now have a clear path to get this work done.”

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