There Goes The Incline

The City of Santa Monica, in cooperation with Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, is, in its words. “proposing to reconstruct the structurally deficient California Incline to meet current seismic standards.”

The City has scheduled a community workshop on ednesday, June 20, to explain its plans, discuss the recently completed draft Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Assessment, and hear from residents.

The incline descends from the intersection of Ocean and California Avenues at the top of the Palisades Bluffs to Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1 (SR-1).

The City wants to demolish the existing roadway and construct a new one at the same location.

The new incline – one northbound lane and two southbound lanes — would be about 750 feet long and, again, in the City’s words, “consist of a reinforced concrete slab structure with spans on the order of 44 feet. Overall width of the new incline would be 51 feet 8 inches, an increase of 5 feet 8 inches over the existing structure. The three 12-foot-wide vehicular lanes would be maintained; the proposed improvements would be designed to accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists. Construction would also require the reconstruction of the upper and lower approaches to the California Incline at Ocean Avenue and SR-1, respectively.

“The new structure would be supported on pile bents founded below the unstable surface of the bluff. A new railing, similar to the existing concrete balustrade, would also be constructed. No lighting is proposed.”

The City estimates that demolition, excavation, grading, bridge construction, road paving, and miscellaneous finish work, would last approximately 10 months. The work would begin by the end of 2008 and be completed by mid-2009. The incline would be closed to traffic for the entire period. No PCH lane closures are anticipated.”

The City noted that during the public scoping process, ”a number of persons and agencies submitted written comments (see Appendix C in EIR). Traffic disruption…was the main issue raised. In addition, concern was expressed regarding the availability of bike access on the incline.”

Among other issues to be resolved is “the possible presence of hazardous materials. Further analysis is required to determine if asbestos or lead-based paint is present on the incline. In addition, consultation with the State Office of Historic Preservation is required to develop a memorandum of agreement identifying measures to mitigate potential adverse effects to historic properties.”

Although the draft EIR acknowledges that “The proposed project could result in unavoidable significant adverse impacts to historical resources, land use plans (historic preservation policies), and air quality (construction only),” it finds no merit in “The No-Build (or No-Action) Alternative, [which] would result in no structural or physical changes to the incline or the surrounding environment. Under this alternative, the incline could continue to deteriorate if not properly maintained or repaired and could be susceptible to damage or collapse in the event of a major earthquake, posing a hazard to motorists and pedestrians on the incline and residents in the vicinity.”

The draft EIR did not elaborate on the consequences of “properly” maintaining and repairing the existing incline.

It did discuss “Mitigations,” noting that ‘While construction impacts would be temporary, the following measures would be implemented to minimize traffic impacts and disruption during construction… A Traffic Management Plan shall be developed by the City prior to construction to ensure that impacts and disruption to circulation and access are minimized during construction.

“To avoid exacerbating already poor operating conditions at PCH and Channel Road/Chautauqua Boulevard and residential neighborhood traffic intrusion along Channel Road/Entrada Drive, proper signage shall be placed to direct/encourage motorists to use the Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard detours.

“Traffic counts conducted on a typical day, representing traffic operations during that specific day were used in estimating the traffic impact during construction. Traffic demand due to daily and seasonal fluctuation would likely occur during the construction period, which could result in a higher or lower traffic demand.

“The City and/or Caltrans shall conduct regular monitoring of traffic operations/demand and make necessary adjustments to traffic signal timing along PCH, Ocean Avenue, Lincoln Boulevard, and 4th Street during the closure of the Incline.

“…it is assumed that identification of detour routes, limits on construction truck traffic, and other traffic management strategies identified for these projects would ensure that the impacts would be minimized. Additionally, impacts would be temporary and limited to the construction period. As a result, it is not expected that the temporary closure of the incline would contribute to substantial adverse cumulative traffic impacts.”

The workshop will be held in the multipurpose room in the Santa Monica Main Library from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Copies of the draft EIR/EA and related documents are available at the Main Library and all the branch libraries. The documents can also be seen and/or downloaded by going to

Or phone the City’s civil engineering
And architecture office:310 434 2618.

Residents’ comments will be made part of the public record, and all “substantive comments on environmental issues” will be addressed in the final EIR/EA, according to the City. Written comments on the draft EIR/EA will be accepted through July 9, 2007. Send comments to Eugenia Chusid, Civil Engineering and Architecture, 1437 4th Street, Suite 300, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Comments on the draft EIR/EA may also be sent via e-mail to Eugenia.Chusid@SMGOV.NET.

One thought on “There Goes The Incline”

  1. My concern is the current hazardous traffic conditions on Ocean Ave. Ext. Runners, cyclists, parked cars and two way traffic on this narrow stretch is treacherous. Not to mention cars turning onto or from Mabery. Has anything been proposed to detour traffic at this juncture?

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