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Santa Monica Transfer Station Sent Back to the Drawing Board

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

December 2, 2014 -- An $8 million temporary bus transfer station to make visiting the future light rail station in Downtown Santa Monica easier and more pleasant was sent back to the drawing board by the City Council last week.

Council members -- who voted 6 to 0 last Tuesday to send the proposal back to City staff for an overhaul -- were concerned the project would worsen congestion in the already heavily-used area near the future site at 4th Street andColorado Avenue, said departing Councilman Bob Holbrook.

Councilman Ted Winterer was absent for the meeting.

Holbrook noted that buses, as well as trains, would be arriving and departing every two minutes -- a situation that would be exacerbated by the anticipated increase in bicyclists, pedestrians and people dropping off and picking up others at the proposed station.

“It may be that 4th Street isn’t the right location,” said Holbrook. “It’s a tough spot.”

The project is proposed for a City-owned location within the vicinity of the light rail station that will be the western-most point of the service connecting Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Santa Monica.

Among the features proposed for the site are six bus bays, two nearby bus stops, an area for cars to drop passengers off, a bikeshare location and a redesigned parking lot to accommodate shuttles to the light rail station, as well as a new access road and pedestrian pathways. 

While the light rail station is expected to open no later than January 2016, this transfer facility is not slated to be completed until January 2017 at the earliest.

The facility will not be a permanent fixture, and is expected to exist for four to 10 years. City staff and consultants are analyzing the site for a long-term use to reduce local traffic. 

The project included public amenities. 

These included “restrooms and carts to activate the public space and maintain a well-lit, comfortable pedestrian zone that provides some commercial activity to support the benefits of social interaction and eyes on the street,” Planning Director David Martin wrote in a report to the council. 

Among the concepts being considered is the construction of a new 4th Street freeway off-ramp. 

The off-ramp would “realign the existing 4th Street I-10 off-ramp with Olympic Drive, allowing for better access to the site and improved off-ramp operation,” Martin wrote. 

Although the project would have a limited lifetime, Martin wrote that it would not be a total loss.

 “While the majority of the facility would be removed and replaced with the long-term use, the traffic signal, new bus stops, restrooms and pedestrian pathways (a value of approximately $2.6 million) could be maintained once the ultimate long term use is in place,” he also wrote.

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