City Council Report


City Council Meeting: November 26, 2013

Agenda Item: 8-A

To:               Mayor and City Council

From:           Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works

Subject:        Pier Bridge Replacement Project Status


Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1.     Review and comment on the proposed conceptual alternatives for the Pier Bridge Replacement Project.

2.     Direct staff to move forward with the NEPA and CEQA environmental review phase of the Project considering the proposed conceptual alternative number 1 and alternative number 4.

3.     Authorize the City Manager to negotiate and execute a third modification to Professional Services Agreement #9642 (CCS) in the amount of $400,000 for a total contract amount not to exceed $1,250,000 with T. Y. Lin International (TYLIN), a California-based company, to provide additional public outreach, NEPA and CEQA environmental review documentation and preliminary design development. This will result in an amended agreement with a new total amount not to exceed $1,250,000.


Executive Summary

Constructed in 1939, the Santa Monica Pier Bridge is a concrete structure connecting Ocean Avenue to the Municipal Pier.  Bridge inspection reports prepared by the Los Angeles County Public Works Department indicated that the existing bridge is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The proposed bridge replacement project is eligible for federal Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funding.  This project includes the construction of a new bridge solving the functional and structural deficiencies of the existing bridge.


Staff and the City’s bridge consultant T. Y. Lin International (T. Y. Lin) engaged in extensive public outreach efforts in the community to inform staff on the conceptual design process.  Based on the survey results and guiding design principles received, staff and the consultant team studied the various project constraints and developed four conceptual alternatives. 


These alternatives were presented at a community workshop with over 40 community members participating in an active discussion resulting in majority support for Alternative #1 and Alternative #4 of the four proposed conceptual alternatives.  Alternative #4 was favored due its benefit of the separating the vehicles from pedestrians and bicycles. The Board of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation supports the community’s recommendations and approved recommending the proposed conceptual alternatives for further study.


Based on the discussions and support received from the Boards and Commissions and the community, staff recommends that Council provide input and direct staff to move forward with the NEPA and CEQA environmental review phase of the project to consider the proposed conceptual alternatives.


Staff also recommends that Council authorize a modification to the agreement with T. Y. Lin in the amount of $400,000 for a total contract amount not to exceed $1,250,000 to complete NEPA/ CEQA environmental review and preliminary design development.



On August 20, 2010, Council authorized staff to proceed with the initiation of a project to replace the Pier bridge and submit an application for federal transportation funding.  Subsequently, the proposed bridge replacement project was determined to be eligible for funding under the Federal Highway Bridge Program.


In May 2012, staff received authorization from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Caltrans (administering agency for federal funds) for the preliminary engineering phase of the project, under the Highway Bridge Program (HBP).


On September 11, 2012, Council authorized a professional services agreement with T. Y. Lin for an amount not to exceed $850,000, to provide public outreach, conceptual design, and environmental documentation services for the Pier Bridge Replacement Project. Of the authorized $850,000, a contract was executed in the amount of $237,200 to complete the public outreach and concept design phase.


On February 26, 2013, Council authorized staff to implement interim modifications to the Pier bridge sidewalks to improve safety and prevent conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians on the Pier bridge sidewalks that were inadequate for the large volume of pedestrians traversing.


The Pier bridge project was initiated in the late 1990’s.  In 2006, the City circulated a draft Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Assessment EIR/EA with technical studies identifying alternatives for rehabilitation of the existing bridge.  However, Caltrans concluded that the cost of rehabilitation would not be eligible for federal funding and that the bridge replacement alternative would be preferred.


The replacement of the existing bridge is eligible to receive federal funding under the FHWA’s Highway Bridge Program (HBP) administered by Caltrans. HBP has general guidelines determining the funding eligibility for the components of a replacement bridge. Most of the mitigation measures required for the project are considered to be eligible while guidelines disqualify unusual architectural treatments (decorative fascia, tile work, architectural lighting, exotic bridge railing, belvederes, etc.). Generally, special treatments should not exceed 5% of the total construction contract.


During the Pier bridge study efforts in 2006, many technical reports and public input were incorporated into the draft EIR/EA environmental document which identified project constraints and set priorities for the bridge replacement project.


Staff and T. Y. Lin reviewed the project’s history and conducted meetings with staff from the Office of Pier Management, Community and Cultural Services, Planning and Community Development, Fire, and Police to present concept development, share ideas and ensure proper coordination between the bridge project and other adjacent projects in progress.


In addition, the Pier Corporation Board formed a three-member study group to work with staff on the Pier bridge and Pier access.  The study group provided the following guiding design principles for development of the conceptual alternatives;


Current Functionality and Use

The bridge serves as the primary access point to Pier businesses and is the sole access for on-Pier parking and emergency vehicles.  The Pier serves various City departments including the Santa Monica Harbor Patrol, Santa Monica Police Department’s downtown substation, and beach/pier maintenance facilities.  In addition, the Pier is also the site of the non-profit Heal the Bay Aquarium, Pacific Park family amusement-park, various restaurants, vendors, street performers, as well as special event performers and their crews. 


The large volume of pedestrians using the bridge creates a substantial conflict with vehicles resulting in safety concerns and delays in accessing the Pier by car.  At the request of the Santa Monica Police Department, bridge sidewalks were recently removed from the bridge and a K-rail was added to separate pedestrians and vehicular traffic, providing better protection for pedestrians using the bridge.

According to the 2006 draft EIR/EA, peak weekend average daily traffic (ADT) is approximately 3,667 comprised of a mix of beach/ Pier patrons and service/delivery vehicles.  However, the largest groups of bridge users by far are pedestrians and bicyclists accessing the Pier and beach access points from Ocean Avenue.  When Pier deck parking (277 parking stalls) is full or during periods of high pedestrian usage (typical summer day), the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic and functions as a pedestrian/bicycle facility, which makes exiting for vehicles very difficult and creates yet another safety conflict.  It is notable that Pier usage is heavy not only in the summer months, but year-round.  Other busy periods for Pier businesses and attendance are the winter holiday season and the spring break in April.


Completion of the Expo Light Rail and the Colorado Esplanade Projects further increase pedestrian and bicycle use of the Pier bridge.  The Colorado Esplanade project calls for modifying Colorado Avenue from the Expo Station at 4th Street to the Pier bridge with extra wide pedestrian walkways and a dedicated two-way cycle track.


The existing bridge is built with a 10% grade resulting in slow pedestrian speeds in both directions.  The steep slope can be especially difficult to traverse for families, those with limited mobility, elderly, and disabled patrons.  A key objective is to make the Pier bridge fully ADA compliant from the Ocean and Colorado intersection – main route – while maintaining full federal funding participation.



The following factors contribute greatly in challenging the design of the bridge;

  1. Geometric:

However, no continuous ADA compliant access exists from Ocean Avenue to the Pier, which is a difference in elevation of 35 feet.


  1. Maintaining Vehicular and Pedestrian Pier Access:

Rebuilding a bridge in its original location involves careful planning of construction procedures and bridge structure type selection to maintain continuous access to the Pier and minimize business impacts.  Two primary alternatives in bridge replacement include:


  1. Right-of-Way, Business & Utilities

Right-of-Way (ROW) requirements will be evaluated with each alternative in terms of number of parcels and impacts to businesses.  All ROW activities will follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations to be eligible for federal funding participation.


Extensive utility coordination and temporary/permanent relocation is anticipated given the location of the project and the close proximity to existing facilities:


With significant utility requirements on the project, the benefit and eligibility of HBP funds for utility relocation will be explored.  Temporary business relocation impacts are anticipated to play a significant role on the overall project planning and execution.


  1. Environmental Impacts

Important environmental and historical resources adjacent to the project area are not expected to be impacted by the project at this time, including the Pier Sign, Hippodrome Building, and Palisades Park.  However, complete environmental evaluation and technical studies will be conducted during the environmental review and document phase to confirm these assumptions.


Overview of Presented Concepts

Based on the public input received, the challenges and constraints associated with the Pier replacement, the following alternatives were identified to address the priorities of the Pier Corporation Board and the constraints and requirements of the Federal funds associated with the Highway Bridge Program. This section describes the alternatives developed. Also, “Attachment #1: Comparison of Proposed Alternatives” provides the list advantages and disadvantages of the proposed alternatives.


Alternative #1


Alternative #1 replaces the Pier bridge with a wider bridge.  The proposed bridge would be approximately 58 feet wide (70% wider than existing) with standard vehicular lanes, shoulders, bike lanes, wider sidewalks in the same location. This alternative is considered to provide baseline functionality of the bridge while addressing the current bridge structural deficiencies, therefore alternative #1 is recommended for further study and consideration in the environmental review.



Alternative #2


Alternative #2 replaces the Pier bridge with a bridge of the current width and constructs a separate ADA/ pedestrian path north of the Pier.  Due to the long length (60% longer than existing bridge) required to meet ADA compliance, this alternative poses potentially significant right-of-way impacts to the 1550 parking lot – State-owned land – as well as impacts to parking spaces and creates adverse visual impacts to the landmarked Hippodrome building.  This alternative was not preferred by the public and was eliminated, not recommended, from further study.


Alternative #3


Alternative #3 replaces the Pier bridge with a pedestrian/bicycle bridge and a vehicular access bridge at Moss Avenue.  The community and the Landmarks Commission requested a direct and linear path from Ocean Avenue to the Pier to maintain the historic character of the setting. Due to the need to maintain delivery and emergency vehicle access from Ocean Avenue to the Pier and lack of public support, this alternative was also eliminated, and not recommended, from further study.


Alternative #4


Alternative #4 replaces the Pier bridge with a bridge of the current width designed primarily for pedestrian and bicycle use, as well as limited/controlled use for delivery and emergency vehicles.  ADA access would be provided either by an adjacent ADA pathway or an elevator.  This alternative provides a separate vehicular access bridge at Moss Avenue and received wide support in public and community meetings as well as from the Pier Corporation Board, therefore alternative #4 is recommended for further study and consideration in the environmental review.


Bicycle Connection

As outlined in the Santa Monica Bicycle Action Plan a bicycle network connection directly from the Colorado - Ocean Avenue intersection to the regional beach bicycle trail is needed at the Pier. Therefore all of the proposed alternatives suggest a new ramp for bicycles and pedestrians from the Pier deck down to the beach bicycle path, which would create the continuous bicycle network connection between the downtown and the regional beach bicycle trail.  Bicycle connection was included in the 5-year bikeway recommendations in the Bicycle Action Plan and staff will continue to seek grants to fund the proposed ramp as it is currently not eligible under the Federal Highway Bridge Program.

2012-10-27, Pier Visioning Open House (1).jpgPublic Outreach

The community input process started with on-line surveys.  Forty-one responses were received. Priorities included pedestrian safety and separation of vehicles and people. 


Staff and T. Y. Lin held various meetings and presentations with a wide range of stakeholders including residents, local and regional community organizations, businesses on the Pier, the Pier visioning consultant, the Pier Corporation Board study group, the Landmarks Commission, and the Pier Corporation Board during the development of conceptual alternatives.  Presentations covered project components, funding guidelines, site constraints, and concept selection criteria, and highlighted the schedule of upcoming public engagement opportunities.  Members from these stakeholder groups serve as important communication links between the evolving project and their various community groups, ensuring that project information and updates are communicated throughout the community.


The June 18, 2013 concept development public workshop was attended by approximately 40 people and focused on the four design concepts.  Attendees had the opportunity to respond to ideas about bridge design, ADA compliance, federal funding, and Pier business impacts.  Overall, the community supported the separation of cars from pedestrian/bicycles to minimize traffic conflict and enhance safety. The proposed Moss Avenue Pier access concept was generally preferred due to its ability to address these issues.



Commissions Action

On August 12, 2013, alternatives were presented at the Landmark’s Commission meeting for discussion.  The Landmark’s Commission expressed the historical significance of maintaining the direct linear connection from Ocean Avenue to the Pier.  The elevator component in alternatives may be a more direct path and visually less intrusive compared to the longer ADA pathways in all the alternatives. Commissioners found the proposed Moss Avenue Bridge intriguing and compelling because of the separation of vehicles and pedestrians. Also the proposed Moss Ave Bridge would provide immediate relief at the Ocean and Colorado intersection. The Landmark’s Commission would be involved in the environmental studies to review and comment on the historical aspects of the project.


Staff and T. Y. Lin conducted five presentations to the Pier Corporation Board during the development of the conceptual designs while periodically meeting with the Pier Board study group. 


On August 19, 2013, all four alternatives were presented to the Pier Corporation Board along with the public workshop comments and Landmarks Commission’s input.  The presentation was followed by open public comment.  The Pier Board unanimously approved the recommendation of Alternatives #1 and #4 for further study in the environmental review process considering the public comments and mitigation of any environmental and traffic impacts.


On November 5, 2013, staff presented the project at the Disabilities Commission meeting.  Overwhelming majority of the commissioners favored Alternative #4 and indicated that providing an elevator in lieu of an ADA pathway would not be preferred.


On November 20, 2013, staff is scheduled to present the project at the Commission for the Senior Community meeting.



Next Steps

To maximize the funding participation of outside agencies, staff and T. Y. Lin are developing partnership discussions with Caltrans and FHWA to focus on the public’s interest in the safety and separation of vehicles and pedestrians, usage of the Pier bridge and the importance of context sensitive design. As the project develops further through environmental review, T. Y. Lin and staff will work with Caltrans to determine if there are any components on the project that are not eligible for funding under the federal funding guidelines.


Based on Council input and direction, staff and T. Y. Lin would start the NEPA / CEQA environmental review phase and continue working with the Pier Board, Caltrans, and interdepartmental teams. Technical studies would be conducted as required for the environmental review.  Staff would provide updates to Council periodically at major milestones of the development process, as follows:

·       Draft Environmental Document Circulation

·       Final Environmental Document Circulation

·       Design Refinements


Modification to Professional Services Agreement

Council previously authorized professional services agreement with T. Y. Lin for an amount not to exceed $850,000. Of the authorized $850,000, a contract was executed in the amount of $237,200 to complete the public outreach and concept design phase. 

In addition to the remaining $612,800 previously authorized by Council, an additional $400,000 is necessary, in order to complete environmental review, additional preliminary engineering, and architectural design. 

Staff recommends a contract modification to Professional Services Agreement No. 9642 (CCS) with T. Y. Lin in the amount of $400,000, for a total contract amount not to exceed $1,250,000.  The additional scope would include preparation of environmental technical studies, advance planning studies, mapping and surveying, preliminary utility coordination, geotechnical analysis, obtaining required permits, and NEPA / CEQA environmental documentation services  Staff anticipates that the environmental review phase would be completed by end of 2015.  The final design would be completed in fall of 2016 while construction would be completed 12-18 months thereafter, under separate modifications.


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

The environmental review is one hundred percent reimbursable by FHWA through Caltrans.  The proposed modification to Professional Services Agreement #9642 (CCS) is $400,000, for a total contract amount not to exceed of $1,250,000.  Funds in the amount of $400,000 were included in the FY 2013-14 Capital Improvement Program budget at account C200655.589000. The City anticipates receiving the grant reimbursement of $1,250,000 from the Highway Bridge Program funds once the project is complete.    All funds in account C200655.589000 are Federal grant funds which would be reimbursed quarterly to the City until the completion of the project.


Prepared by: Selim Eren, Civil Engineer




Forwarded to Council:







Martin Pastucha

Director of Public Works


Rod Gould

City Manager




1.     Comparison of Proposed Alternatives

2.     Alternatives At-a-Glance

3.     Additional Renderings of Alternatives