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Busy Santa Monica Corridor Goes to Planning Commission with 'People-Oriented' Redesign


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 15, 2018 -- An extensive plan to redesign the congested corridor near the Santa Monica College rail stop to make it more “people-oriented” goes to the City Planning Commission on Wednesday.

The move comes after the north/south corridor between 17th Street and Michigan Avenue saw a dramatic increases in bicyclists and pedestrians since the opening of the Expo line, staff said.

Corridor rendering
Corridor rendering for intersection (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

The City’s plan proposes bicycle lanes protected by medians, “Dutch-design” intersections meant to be safer, pedestrian-scale lights and highly visible crosswalks, according to a City staff report.

It also cuts into parking.

“A total of 1,189 parking spaces are located on the corridor or on adjacent blocks, and a total of 94 parking spaces are proposed for removal following the design effort,” said the report by Francie Stefan, the City’s mobility division manager.

The move to remove spaces comes after "detailed" parking occupancy studies identified available replacement parking for residents, the report said.

“In addition to observing adequate available parking on nearby blocks, staff proposes to expand residential preferential parking adjacent to Woodlawn Cemetery to increase available resident parking,” it said.

The project’s goal is to “provide a cohesive people-oriented design along 17th Street, with some variations due to street width, traffic volumes and unique conditions like the Expo Line crossing,” the report said.

For example, the new design preserves left turn pockets for vehicle flow at the busiest intersections of Wilshire, Santa Monica and Olympic Boulevards, the report said.

“Similarly, at a segment of narrow roadway south of Michigan Avenue, the design incorporates the bike path into the parkway in order to minimize parking removal and tree loss, although some were necessary to improve safety or balance those two demands,” the report said.

Project “Safe Streets for 17th Street and Michigan Avenue” goes to the commission during its regular 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday in City Council Chambers at 1685 Main Street.

As designed, the project spans from Wilshire to Pico Boulevards, and on Michigan Avenue from 14th to 19th Street. It links four neighborhoods and connects to Memorial Park, the 17th Street/SMC Expo Station, the Expo Pedestrian/Bike Path and Santa Monica College.

Along the 1.1 miles of 17th Street, the project crosses four major transit lines, a neighborhood greenway and three primary east-west bikeways, the report said.

Included in the proposal are 115 new pedestrian-scale lights on the west side of 17th Street (13-16 feet tall, LED and illuminating the sidewalk); 26 curb extensions at eight intersections, dual-direction curb ramps, and “high visibility” crosswalks.

It also attempts to preserve “the majority of trees along the corridor,” the report said.

Among other changes proposed are “protected” bike paths installed from Wilshire to Pico Boulevards on both sides of the street separated by a raised median and/or parking and “fully protected” intersections at 17th/Arizona Avenue and 17th/Broadway where busy bikeways intersect.

In addition, the project envisions extending the east-west greenway from 14th Street to 19th Street, reduced-scale traffic circles and markings which “anticipate the connection over the 20th Street bridge,” the report said.

The Commission’s comments “will shape the final design,” of the project, which is expected to go to the Council next month, the report said.

The final design/construction plans phase starts a short time later and takes about a year to complete. Construction would begin by 2020.


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