Colorado Esplanade

Esplanade Ribbon Cutting

The newly-completed Colorado Esplanade, from 4th Street to Ocean Avenue, is a promenade designed to connect the Downtown Expo Light Rail station, Tongva Park and one of the City’s most prominent landmarks, the Santa Monica Pier, stitching the Civic Center and Downtown Districts together across the freeway. The project addresses the community vision for an integrated light rail system, easily accessed from key destinations and by multiple travel modes.

Key project components include:

  • Wide sidewalks on the south side of Colorado Avenue to accommodate the additional pedestrians traveling to and from the Downtown Expo Light Rail station;
  • Intersection improvements at 4th Street and Ocean Avenue for better pedestrian orientation and safety, including pedestrian scramble crosswalks;
  • The realignment of Main and 2nd Streets to remove the complicated roadway jog;
  • Wayfinding medallions inlaid within the sidewalk to highlight popular destinations in the vicinity;
  • And a separated bicycle facility, or “cycle track,” to provide protected bike lanes in both directions and fill a missing link between the Beach and Downtown.


The Expo Light Rail construction created one-way westbound vehicle flow between 5th and 4th Streets, and the Colorado Esplanade continues that one-way flow to the west, helping to streamline vehicle flow in this busy area.


Peter Walker Partners, an internationally-acclaimed landscape design firm, has applied a design palette of defining elements (unique sidewalk pavers, framing trees and plant palette, wayfinding elements and festival lighting to improve nighttime quality and comfort) to form a street that unifies the functional components and orients and directs people through integrated urban design. The result is a sequence of paths, intersections and gateways that provide definition, meaning, improved safety and functionality and a sense of place for people at this critical city junction. Taking inspiration from Santa Monica’s historic Pier sign, the reconfiguration improves the view of the sign and celebrates this unique location at the edge of the continent. The Colorado Esplanade organizes arrival/departure for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and bus and transit patrons, while creating an iconic City gateway that integrates the Beach, Civic Center and Downtown. Construction was partially funded by a grant from Metro.

Esplanade, Aerial Colorado Esplanade Rendering

Implementation Details

Workshops & Milestones

Sun Jun 05, 2016

Esplanade Grand Opening

Tue May 14, 2013

City Council Hearing

Final design approval for the Colorado Esplanade project, and direction to staff to prepare a bid package and solicit bids for the reduced footprint core project; and Amendment of the Civic Center Specific Plan to eliminate the 2nd Street Bridge Extension as a public improvement, and replace with the planned Main to 2nd Street alignment proposed by the Colorado Esplanade project.

Environmental Report

Colorado Esplanade Project



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