Summer of 2011 is at its tail end, which means the changing of the colors in certain corners of the world. Here in Santa Monica, the colors are not the only thing changing, as this fall means the transformation of Ocean Park Boulevard into a “Green Street.”
The final design plans were approved by the Santa Monica City Council in April 2010 as part of Ocean Park Boulevard’s “Compete “Green Street Project.” The new environmentally friendly streets cape plan between Lincoln Boulevard and Nielsen Way is expected to finally take form this fall.
“This project is expected to improve the character and functionality of the street for all users, and improve the quality and reduce the quantity of storm water runoff from the adjacent drainage area,” said Rick Valte, a principal engineer with the city, in his staff report about the project.
Carrying a construction price tag of about $3.8 million, the “Green Street” will completely change the physical landscape of about two miles of road in the southwestern corner of the city.
The aim of the new Ocean Park Boulevard is to “reclaim… public open space” and rescale the thoroughfare according to the principles of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE). Accordingly, once the “Green Street” element is complete, Ocean Park Boulevard will be much more conducive to bicycling and pedestrian activity, while also adding in landscaped medians, murals, and green parkways.
According to the Planning Department, the “Green Street” project has sought “to develop solutions to issues based on scale, character, health and safety, sustainability, landscaping, accessibility, and circulation.”
“Central to the Land Use and Circulation Element’s (LUCE) philosophy on the role of streets, a “Complete Green Street” is one that is pedestrian scaled, landscaped to provide shade and canopy, conserves water and reduces urban run-off, calms traffic, and provides for all modes of travel including pedestrian, bicycle, automobile, and public transit,” Valte stated.
He added the “Green Street” project was also key in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, “prioritizing non-motorized travel, and increasing the size and biodiversity of the urban forest.”
Ultimately, once completed, the Ocean Park Boulevard “Complete Green Street Project” will bring “wider sidewalks, wider and more visible bike lanes, new tree species and landscaping, new and enhanced crosswalks and pedestrian lighting” to the redeveloped stretch of road.
Also highlighting the new “Green Street” would be new bicycle racks, benches, and trash receptacles.
Finally, more than 100 new trees are expected to be added along Ocean Park Boulevard. Some of the trees that have already been considered at the various community workshops include: Cassia leptophyllous (Gold Medallion Tree); Syagrus romanzoffianum (Queen Palm); Arbutus Marina (Marina Strawberry Tree); Rhus lancea (African Sumac); and, Brahea armata (Blue Hesper Palm), among others.
PALP, Inc., was awarded the construction contract, topping a list of 75 bidding requests and six submitted bids. The company has completed similar projects throughout Southern California, including the Highland Avenue widening project, Alameda Street’s redesign, Santa Monica Transit Parkway project, bridge construction and street landscaping in Dana Point, and the Jefferson Boulevard widening in Playa Del Rey.
Funding for the “Green Street” project was made possible by a combination of resources, including Measure V (the Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax), Proposition 1B, Proposition C, and the city’s General Fund.
While the street scape budget will approximately be $3.8 million, the Planning Dept. indicated another $1 million may be allocated to the Los Amigos Park retrofit (pending feasibility).
Another $450,000 was allocated to the schematic design and construction document preparation, while the concept plans presented to council members early on carried a price tag of $120,000.
Contact Parimal M. Rohit: Parimal@smmirror.com
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