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Santa Monica Takes Step Toward Building New Pedestrian Bridge Over Incline

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

November 12, 2015 -- The City Council Tuesday night approved conceptual drawings by international design firm T.Y. Lin for a new pedestrian bridge across the California Incline to replace an existing structure, which is in need of earthquake retrofitting and other upgrades.

Approved as part the consent calendar, the $1.9 million project amends Santa Monica's $15 million contract with MCM Construction Inc., which began rebuilding the historic incline from scratch in April.

A rendering of the bridge by T.Y. Lin, which is being paid $411,800, shows a spiral structure with one curving section extending out over PCH, providing an ocean view.
renderings by T.Y.Lin.Courtesy City of Santa Monica

The add-on project also includes renovating the “Idaho Trail” that runs along the bluff to Palisades Park, exiting near Idaho Avenue.

Construction of both pedestrian routes will add another two to three months to the scheduled completion date of the California Incline project, pushing it back to July 2016 and keeping the popular shortcut to PCH closed that much longer, a staff report said.

But putting off replacing the over-cross until after the incline reopens in April 2016, then having to shut down PCH a second time, would force the City to pay for more traffic control measures “and further inconvenience the public,” staff said.

Spanning over the incline between Ocean Avenue and PCH, the existing pedestrian bridge has repeatedly received poor ratings for structural integrity, staff said.

The needed repairs listed in the staff report include repairing the deck surface, patching spalls in the south girder and replacing missing tie wires in the bottom of the pedestrian fence. In addition, the east slope needs to be rebuilt to stabilize the staircase and walkway, staff said.

A structural assessment conducted on the span, as well as the nearby trail, by T.Y. Lin International concluded the bridge should be replaced.

Founded in the 1940s, T.Y. Lin International has designed numerous bridges and buildings all over the world, including the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which opened in 2013, and the historic Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, completed in 2010.

Input for the conceptual plan came from residents during a meeting last month at which the firm presented three different design schemes. Residents and staff preferred the final concept's “unique shape and how it differs from the existing pedestrian overpass,” said staff.

T.Y. Lin will now complete the designs and prepare construction plans for the new bridge. Final blueprints will be reviewed and approved by appropriate City departments.

Funding for the work had already been allocated in future budgets, but the money now needs to be transferred to the existing budget to expedite the projects, staff said . With the $1.9 million “change order,” the total amount of MCM Construction contract is now nearly $17 million, staff said.

City officials originally wanted to add the pedestrian bridge as part of the California Incline construction project, but backed off after encountering “a lot of public concern” about how long the construction work would keep PCH closed.

“Adding project work at that time would have met stiff oppositions,” said staff.

Indeed, as work on the incline was about to begin April 20, some area residents feared a “traffic nightmare.” But the dire predictions haven't materialized, City officials said.

“We also realize the opportunity to take advantage of the contractor expertise and window of opportunity moving forward on site at this time will result in a short extension of the closure only, and not an additional closure,” staff said.

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