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Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills could soon be bicycle safe

Alternative transport advocates propose a “complete street” for Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, which would require a uniform 62 foot width. Courtesy Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Alternative transport advocates propose a “complete street” for Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, which would require a uniform 62 foot width. Courtesy Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

Alternative transport advocates in Beverly Hills are one step closer to having Santa Monica Blvd. become a “complete street,” taking the opportunity at Tuesday’s Jan. 6 Beverly Hills City Council Study Session to stall momentum on recommendations to keep the boulevard’s width unchanged.

Providing a long-line of speakers to boost their ranks, advocates addressed Beverly Hills City Council at Beverly Hills City Hall, during study session discussion on Council’s Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendations for traffic mitigation during Santa Monica Blvd.’s upgrading.

Alternative transport advocate Mark Elliot said that the issue of street width was almost lost, with Tuesday’s Council decision for the Ad Hoc Committee to revisit the issue of width now providing a ray of hope for all road users in the area.

“The first priority is that safety has to be paramount,” Elliot said. “We want all of our streets, including Santa Monica Blvd., to be safe for all road users.”

The Ad Hoc Committee, consisting of Mayor Lili Bosse and Councilman Willie Brien, had recommended in their report to keep the 60-foot-wide boulevard as it is today. They will now revisit the issue in the near future.

Advocating a “complete street” concept, Elliot’s Beverly Hills Greenway campaign calls for a 62-foot-wide street encompassing safe bicycle lanes, similar to those in Mid-City and Santa Monica.

“Where safety is concerned, there is always an alternative,” Elliot said, explaining that the Greenway proposal offers no net loss of parkland and could be a perfect solution for the boulevard.

City Council listened to almost two-hours of speakers on the issue, the majority who supported a shared road to accommodate all users.
Bosse concluded that the study session process in Beverly Hills “works,” stating that after hearing the advocates speak, she is now looking forward to moving forward with a solution for all.

After a detailed review of the traffic impact analysis and lane closure alternatives, the Santa Monica Blvd. Ad-Hoc Committee recommended the Alternative 4 lane closure option be adopted.

This alternative utilizes a combination of lane closure alternatives that “balances minimizing traffic impacts and providing opportunities to expedite construction in order to reduce the overall schedule and cost associated with reconstruction of the boulevard,” according to the City. “A range from four traffic lanes to three/two traffic lanes depending on activity.”

City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Committee’s recommendation for Alternative 4.

The Ad-Hoc Committee also recommended that staff: return to Council with a draft construction mitigation plan developed in consultation with the Traffic & Parking Commission five months after commencement of project design; consider landscaped medians in project design and return to City Council at 50 percent of project design – proposed modifications to bus stops, street lighting, and other changes to the existing roadway would be forwarded at this time; and conduct public outreach.

The Committee suggested that prior to issuing construction bid documents, City staff return to Council with recommendations for extended hours and/or weekend construction to expedite the overall project.

The project follows a decision on July 4, 2013 when the City entered into an agreement with Psomas to perform design services for the deteriorating Santa Monica Blvd. that the State of California relinquished to the City in 2004.

Psomas estimates that it will take approximately 14 months from the beginning of the project design to start construction, inclusive of the construction bidding process.

The first phase of construction involves replacement of the drainage system and common practice is for this type of construction to be done in the spring to avoid potential flooding, according to the City.

Starting construction in spring 2016 would minimize overlap with the most intensive phases of construction of the Metro La Cienega station.

The pre-design cost and duration estimates include the assumption that four lanes of traffic will be maintained throughout construction to minimize traffic impacts.

The pre-design cost estimate for the Santa Monica Blvd. Reconstruction project between Doheny Drive and Wilshire Blvd. presented to City Council on July 1, 2014 was $28.6 million. The current estimate is $27.2 million under lane closure Alternative 4. This cost estimate will be updated during project design and upon contract award, according to the City.

• Do you have a story idea or news tip? Contact Jennifer Eden by email at Jennifer@smmirror.com.

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