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California Incline:

The California Incline Bridge, built in the 1930,  has been rated as structurally and seismically insufficient. It will be completely demolished in order to be rebuilt.  Those who live in areas near the bridge have concerns about how the traffic will flow while the replacement bridge is under construction.

Originally, the rebuild was supposed to begin at the end of 2008 and be completed by mid-2009.  The beginning date has now been pushed back until either the fall of 2010 or the winter of 2011. 

After demolishing the current structure, the new incline will be approximately 750 feet long with a width of 51 feet, 8 inches, which is 5 feet, 8 inches wider than the current incline. There will be a 6-foot shoulder beside the westerly vehicular lane, and the current sidewalk width will be increased.  The current 12-foot-wide vehicular lanes will also be maintained. ­­­­

The City’s Director of Public Works, Lee Swain, told the Mirror the bridge rebuild was delayed “in order to meet the requirements for federal funding.”  Additionally, the work on stabilizing the Palisades Bluffs has to be completed before it begins. That work didn’t begin until this past September and won’t be completed according to the Assistant City Engineer, Tony Antich until May 2010.  A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and an Environmental Assessment (EA) had been reviewed for the project in the summer of 2007 but now a new DEIR is being prepared that will include geotechnical improvements to the slope above the incline to protect the new bridge and the public from landslides.  This DEIR will be released by the spring of 2010.

Antich stated that the new DEIR will analyze different proposed construction schedule impacts including a round the clock schedule and a normal 5 – 6 day with normal working hours schedule.

The City’s Principal Civil Engineer, Mark Cuneo, told the Mirror that the primary detour being proposed in the new DEIR for southbound traffic on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is to take the exit one mile south of the California Incline under the Santa Monica Pier Bridge.  The northbound detour is down the ramp to PCH at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Colorado Avenue.

Other traffic mitigation measures proposed during the bridge construction in the 2007 DEIR/EA include the City developing a Traffic Management Plan and having the City and Caltrans conduct regular monitoring of “traffic operations/demand and make necessary adjustments to traffic signal timing along PCH, Ocean Avenue, Lincoln Boulevard and 4th Street.”  Another proposed mitigation is placing proper signage “to direct/encourage motorists to use the Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard detours” in order “to avoid exacerbating already poor operating conditions at PCH and Channel Road/Chautauqua Boulevard along Channel Road/Entrada Drive.”

The cost to rebuild the bridge has been estimated at $12 million.  Eighty-eight percent of that will be funded through the federal Highway Bridge Program and the other 12 percent will come from City funds.  Swain estimated that the construction would last approximately one year.

Contact Hannah Heineman 

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