City Council Report

                             
City Council Meeting: September 13, 2011
Agenda Item:   8-B 

To:          Mayor and City Council 

From:      Martin Pastucha, Director, Public Works

David Martin, Director, Planning & Community Development

Scott Ferguson, Fire Chief, Fire Department

Kathryn Vernez, Assistant to the City Manager

Subject:   Update on the Exposition Light Rail Project in the City of Santa Monica

 

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that City Council:

·       Receive the track alignment and station conceptual plans for the Exposition Light Rail line; and

·       Direct staff to proceed with continued design review and coordination with the Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority; and

·       Authorize the City Manager to continue to negotiate with the Exposition Construction Authority and Skanska-Rados joint venture team for identified station betterments at Memorial Park/17th St. Station and at Bergamot/26th St. Station, and return to Council with final commitment recommendations.

 

Executive Summary

The Exposition Light Rail Project (Expo LRT) is a 15-mile light rail line extending from Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Santa Monica and will be the first extension of Metro rail to the west side.  The project is part of a significant county-wide investment in transportation facilitated by the passage of Measure R. The Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority (Construction Authority), a single purpose agency created by the State, was formed to facilitate completion of the project within a tight schedule and budget. The Construction Authority is using an accelerated design-build process in which project design will proceed concurrently with construction phases.  A design, engineering, and construction team, the Skanska-Rados Joint Venture (SRJV) team, was hired by the Construction Authority to execute the design-build project following a competitive process.

 

Expo LRT in Santa Monica will consist of three stations, a maintenance facility, a bike path, and approximately three miles of trackway.  East of 17th Street, tracks will run in the existing Metro right-of-way located south of Colorado and crossing to the south side of Olympic Boulevard near 20th Street. West of 17th Street the tracks will run in the center of Colorado Avenue. The three stations in Santa Monica are located at Olympic/26th Street (Bergamot Station), at Colorado Avenue/17th Street (Memorial Park/17th St. Station), and at 4th/Colorado (Downtown Station). Trains will operate at-grade throughout Santa Monica, with the exception of aerial crossings over Cloverfield Avenue/Olympic Boulevard and Centinela Avenue. 

 

The Expo LRT to Santa Monica is a significant and long-term public investment in transit, city-wide and regional mobility, and sustainability.  It will provide Santa Monica residents, employees, students and visitors with easier access to major destinations both locally and regionally. The light rail stations were incorporated in the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), and are part of an integrated citywide strategy to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve no net new evening peak trips.

 

Council meetings regarding the Expo LRT in Santa Monica span four years, including October 23, 2007, March 3, 2009, July 14, 2009, August 11, 2009, October 27, 2009, November 24, 2009, July 13, 2010 and June 28, 2011. 

 

This report provides updates on the Construction Authority’s accelerated design-build process. The design-build process is developing project elements consistent with Phase 1, as the Expo Construction Authority has committed to continuity of baseline design along the entire line. The report updates Council on specific project changes and betterments being incorporated into the design-build process that are essential for LRT safety, operational efficiency, functionality and integration within the City of Santa Monica which will increase ridership and accessibility.  The project changes and betterments include:

·       Downtown Station/4th Street: An improved station platform alignment that increases train operating speeds, improves traffic operation on the 4th and 5th Street off-ramp, and improves station pedestrian access.

·       Memorial Park Station/17th Street: A western station entrance and crossing to anticipate surges in ridership and high bicycle use projected at this station due to proximity to Santa Monica College and large employers.

·       Bergamot Station/26th Street: A side platform configuration to integrate the station into Bergamot Arts Center and Bergamot Transit Village with pedestrian crossings at both ends of the station. 

 

Changes at Memorial Park and Bergamot are being incorporated as proposed City betterments which would be locally funded. On June 28, 2011, Council authorized preparation of the preliminary engineering for these improvements necessary to identify rough costs for construction of the betterments.

 

Generally the train will travel at the speed of vehicle traffic through the street-running at-grade section in Santa Monica west of 17th Street.  The train will slow as it enters each station and then comes to a complete stop. For the Downtown Station, the City worked closely with the Construction Authority to develop a modified track and station alignment. This modified alignment will provide for increased train speeds through the intersection of 5th Street/Colorado Avenue by softening the track curvature leading to the station. The modified station improves pedestrian station access, better integrates the station on the site, may improve traffic operation on the 4th and 5th Street off-ramp, and leaves sufficient city-owned property to enable a future use of the remaining site for mixed-use development, parking or other community priorities.  City staff are working with the Construction Authority to provide early review of the design.  The Downtown Station and track alignment of the light rail are being designed for weekday peak hour traffic operations similar to what is currently experienced in the Downtown.  Furthermore, staff is confident that the planned design does not preclude the City from further enhancements to improve the flow of vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and/or transit, should additional enhancements be necessary following the opening and operation of the new light rail line.

 

The Construction Authority’s design-build process includes a reconfiguration of Colorado Avenue from 17th to 4th Streets in order to accommodate the new 26-foot wide light rail trackway in the center of the street including significant underground utility reconfiguration. The trackway will remove one lane of traffic in each direction, resulting in a 19.5-foot lane on the north side, including a 7-foot parking lane, and a 14.5-foot lane on the south side with no parking. The south curb line will be moved southward but maintain a minimum 10 foot sidewalk and parkway zone. The design-build process is moving forward very quickly, and the Skanska-Rados team is actively evaluating the subsurface utilities that may conflict with proposed above-grade features along Colorado Avenue.  Details of the Colorado Avenue reconfiguration such as corner treatments, landscaping, and street lights will be identified in upcoming stages of the design-build concurrent processes. Moving forward into the design-build process, the following considerations should be further evaluated:

·   Evaluate curb extensions related to vehicle turning radii, transitions to perpendicular parking, and defined parking lanes.

·   Evaluate revised parking configurations and the integration of this parking within the residential, business and vehicular environment.

·   Provide additional pedestrian crossings to support replacement parking strategies, subject to CPUC approval.

·   Carefully evaluate each replacement tree location in relation to utility conflicts to maximize the tree canopy that can be achieved on Colorado Avenue, including consideration of supportive planting techniques.

·   Provide appropriate street illumination for the safe function of light-rail on Colorado, and interaction between cars, trains, pedestrians and bicycles.

·   Locate and design replacement parking as close and convenient to businesses as possible.

·   Accommodate the regional bike path and facilitate connections the City’s current and future bike network.

The Fire Department has reviewed and evaluated the proposed street lane widths, parking and proposed implementation measures, included as Attachment A.  They include coordinated design, training and operations measures for the City, Expo and Metro.

 

In Spring 2011, the City applied for a number of Metro Call for Projects grant funds to address priority improvements for Expo LRT.  Metro recommended approval of one grant that will fund a limited amount of improvements along Colorado including landscaping/trees on the north side of the street, reflective materials to identify and separate the trackway from vehicle traffic, and artistic treatment of the fencing segments to be located at “T” intersections along Colorado.

 

The City provided the Construction Authority with Construction Mitigation and Implementation Requirements as a guideline document for the implementation of EXPO LRT. These guidelines include general and specific construction phasing, traffic control, construction hours and noise control requirements. Minimum criteria for all phases of work include: provide one travel lane in each direction at all times, unless an alternative is approved by the City; provide access to residents and businesses at all times, if any street closures are required; provide work notice with street closures occurring between 8:00 PM and 6 AM. The design builder will submit a specific phasing plan with timelines of all work within the City of Santa Monica.

 

 

Background

The Exposition Light Rail Project (Expo LRT) is a 15-mile light rail line extending from Downtown Los Angeles to a terminus station in Downtown Santa Monica.  The project will connect to the Los Angeles County Metro (Metro) rail network in Downtown.  Phase 1 of the project from Los Angeles to Culver City is nearing completion; Phase 2 consists of the 7-mile segment from Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica. The project is part of a significant county-wide investment in transportation facilitated by the passage of Measure R.  Passed by LA County voters in 2008, Measure R is a half-cent sales tax to finance new transportation projects and programs, and accelerate those already in the pipeline. The Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority (Construction Authority), a sole-purpose State agency, was created to facilitate completion of the project within a tight schedule and budget. 

 

The Construction Authority is using a design-build process to deliver the Expo LRT project.  The design-build process accelerates the project schedule by overlapping the project design process with phases of project construction so that they are proceeding concurrently.  A design, engineering, and construction team, the Skanska-Rados Joint Venture team, were hired by the Construction Authority to complete the design-build process following a competitive process. The project to design and construct the maintenance facility in Santa Monica was contracted separately to a consultant team lead by Maintenance Design Group and is proceeding concurrently.  The bicycle path project has not yet been contracted to a consultant team, but the City has encouraged SRJV and the Construction Authority to incorporate and anticipate the bike path design in the LRT process.

 

Description: map_Corridor_Expo2_ltrMAR10

 

When Phase 2 is completed in 2015, it will take approximately 46 minutes to travel from Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Santa Monica on the light rail. The Expo line is projected to be one of the busiest light rail lines in the country, with a projected ridership of 64,000 boardings and alightings per weekday along the entire alignment. Three stations are planned to service Santa Monica – at Olympic/26th Street (Bergamot Station), at Colorado Avenue/17th Street (Memorial Park/17th St. Station), and at 4th/Colorado (Downtown Station).

 

Community input in 2006-07 resulted in a request for the addition of the Memorial Park/17th St. Station, and the elimination of plans to elevate the line west of Euclid which would have resulted in a one-half mile long aerial structure and an elevated Downtown Station. Per Council and Expo Board recommendation and approval, Expo LRT will run at-grade throughout Santa Monica, with the exception of aerial crossings at Centinela Avenue and Cloverfield Avenue/Olympic Boulevard.  East of 17th Street the line will run in the Metro right-of-way, and west of 17th Street it will run in the center of Colorado Avenue.

 

On July 13, 2010, the Council unanimously adopted City recommendation for elements to be included in the Expo LRT project definition for the three Expo LRT stations in Santa Monica. The recommendations prioritize functionality, ridership access, and safety as well as address Santa Monica’s vision as established by the adopted LUCE. In May 2010, the City conducted presentations for the Construction Authority and the design build teams to kick off the design process. Since the July 13th Council meeting City staff has:

·   August 2010 - Prepared and transmitted a comprehensive binder of information to the Construction Authority containing City standards and design criteria, including all applicable existing ordinances, and design specifics for LRT integration.

·   October 2010 - Provided plan review comments on the “Stage A” draft designs submitted by two competing design-build teams. The City submitted over 1,100 detailed comments to provide early and thorough input to facilitate the project schedule and early resolution of issues.  

·   November 2010 - Arranged with Expo CA to prepare the analysis for five additional pedestrian crossings through an Addendum to Hazard Review analysis process for consideration by the Public Utilities Commission.

·   January 2011 – Provided additional data and analysis to the Construction Authority concerning the City’s increased forecasted ridership at the Bergamot/26th St. Station due to pipeline and future development, and at Memorial Park/17th St. Station due to surges and high bicycle-user ridership.

·   Investigated and analyzed the circulation issues related to incorporation of train operations into the existing downtown street network, and thoroughly analyzed options.

·   April 2011 – Developed a conceptual design and design criteria for the regional bike path in Santa Monica to present bike path accommodations relating to the main line to Expo Construction Authority and to SRJV.

·   April 2011 – Community Outreach Meeting for the Maintenance Yard Buffer Zone.

·   April 2011 ongoing – Participating with the Construction Authority and Metro Operations in issue identification, over-the-shoulder design review and feedback to the design-build team; meetings with other third-party agencies including Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company.

 

·   May 2011 – Completed revisions to the Construction Mitigation and Implementation Requirements incorporating comments from Expo Construction Authority and SRJV.

·   May – September 2011 –Attended Expo Community Outreach for the Maintenance Facility including Community Kick-off meeting and Maintenance Yard Design Community Meeting with Expo, Metro, and the design team.

·   June – September 2011 – Participated in negotiation of preliminary engineering scope for betterment pricing, and ongoing participation in betterment scope definition.

·   September 2011 – Completed preparation of the draft Major Cooperative Agreement between the City and Expo Construction Authority to guide the cooperative project process.

 

The Construction Authority completed the first stage (called “Stage A”) of design for Expo Phase 2 utilizing a 6-month competitive process between two design-build teams. Stage A included preliminary engineering work and design sufficient to establish a baseline project definition and cost.  The Construction Authority defined parameters for both design-build teams to submit designs for Phase 2 Stage A consistent in character and scope with Phase 1 (included below are photos of Expo Phase 1 light rail elements). Draft design packages were submitted by each team in early September 2010 for review by Expo, Metro and the “third parties,” including the Cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The City of Santa Monica presented information to each design-build team and submitted extensive comments on the design packages.  At the conclusion of Stage A, each design-build team submitted final preliminary engineering design drawings and baseline price to Expo Construction Authority in November 2010. Following Stage A, the Construction Authority negotiated a contract with the top-ranked team of Skanska-Rados Joint Venture, and issued a Limited Notice to Proceed with the design-build project in May 2011.

Description: 23rd_Street

Expo Phase 1 Station with center platform configuration

A similar station configuration is proposed for Memorial Park/17th St Station.  Also pictured are center OCS poles and embedded trackway, both elements of the proposed street running light rail segment along Colorado Avenue.

Description: crenshaw-2

Expo Phase 1 Station platform

Platforms are typically 12’ wide for side platforms (proposed for Bergamot Station) or 16’ wide for center platforms (proposed for Memorial Park and Downtown Stations) and are furnished with a shade canopy and benches.

Description: western-7465-800

 

Description: photo

 

Expo Phase 1 Station platform and canopy

 

 
 


Discussion

When the Expo Construction Authority completes the Expo Light Rail (Expo LRT) project in 2015, it will be a significant and long-term public investment in mobility, quality of life, and sustainability. The $1.5 billion Phase 2 of the Expo Light Rail line creates an important west side link to the Metro fixed-rail system and will provide Santa Monica residents and visitors with easier access to major destinations both locally and regionally.

 

The Expo Light Rail project was anticipated in the integrated land use and transportation vision in the City’s LUCE, with station areas identified for improved pedestrian, bicycle and transit connections; as well as land use changes supporting transit ridership and the creation of new neighborhoods at Bergamot Transit Village and Memorial Park. The multi-modal emphasis of the LUCE recognizes the importance of light rail, and identifies supportive and complementary facilities and policies to encourage light rail, ensuring that light rail is well-integrated into the city. Light Rail is one of the important components of an integrated citywide strategy to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve no net new evening peak trips.

 

On July 13, 2010, the Council unanimously adopted recommendations for elements to be included in the Construction Authority’s three Expo LRT stations, directing City staff to work with Expo so that the stations are designed and constructed to ensure safety, functionality, access and ridership, as well as smooth transfers. Significant progress has been made on establishing the station recommendations as described below. This report also provides overall updates on the Construction Authority’s design-build process. 

 

Light Rail Stations

 

Downtown Station

This Downtown station must be capable of handling a high level of activity and serving as the gateway to multiple destinations in Downtown, the Civic Center and the Oceanfront. Every rider exiting the train will become a pedestrian, and access to/from the train must be designed in a way that will gracefully accommodate the expected crowds.  Circulation in and around the station is very important to facilitate ridership, integrating all the modes accessing the train and traveling on Downtown streets.

 

The Construction Authority’s initially-proposed Downtown Station alignment as shown below, would utilize the majority of the former Sears Automotive site at 4th and Colorado Avenue for the station site.  This layout featured a track curvature of approximately 60 degrees and a southern station entrance at the southwest corner of the site in addition to the entrance on the northern side of the platform. This alignment would require trains to slow significantly as they navigated the turn with the potential for resulting wheel noise along the curvature and possible impacts to 5th Street operations. 

Description: DT Station Stage A_rev

Expo Stage A Preliminary Design for Santa Monica Downtown Station

 

The City has worked closely with the Construction Authority to evaluate the proposed station regarding train operations, pedestrian circulation, vehicle traffic, noise and the resulting site design. Through this process, the City and Construction Authority identified an improved Downtown station alignment that increases train operating speeds and improves station pedestrian access.  The station’s position on the site addresses visibility issues at 5th/Colorado through Expo acquisition of the property at the SW corner and provides an improved relationship of the station to the future Colorado Esplanade. The revised alignment softens the curvature of the tracks enabling faster train speeds across the intersection of 5th Street/Colorado Avenue, reducing the potential wheel noise, and improves the resulting opportunities for use of the remainder of the Sear automotive and adjacent City-owned sites, including preserving the 4th Street tunnel access.

 

Description: Expo Alt C 09 06 2011_Staff Report

Alternative Concept for Downtown Station                                                                                           The Alternative Station Concept utilizes less of the property and orients the station platforms closer to Colorado Avenue; shown here with plaza entrances on the north and south sides of the platforms

 

Other features of the revised design include:

·       2 center platforms that meet Metro preferences

·       Maintains two station entrances and space for pedestrian queuing from the north and south

·       A continuous sidewalk on south side of Colorado is maintained between 4th and 5th Streets

·       Station position utilizes 15’ feet of 5th Street right-of-way (R.O.W.) to accommodate sufficient cross-platform circulation at the west end of the station

·       Westbound vehicle lane at minimum 19.5’ and able to accommodate a potential westbound left turn lane at 4th Street 

·       Grand stairs and street-level plaza interface to the north and south

·       Maintains traction power substation located along 5th Street

·       Greater remaining site area south of station platforms, including potential for station-oriented uses, and sufficient space for a potential future street segment south of Colorado to improve circulation and access to the site.

 

From a pedestrian standpoint, the revised station significantly improves integration of the station access and is better urban design.  From a vehicle traffic perspective, this station configuration ensures that vehicle flows into the Downtown on 4th and 5th Streets will remain similar to existing weekday peak period conditions, once the light rail begins operations.

 

The next steps for moving forward with the revised Downtown Station are to work with the Construction Authority and Metro on the following key issues, to be developed during final design.

·       Integrate required equipment for the terminus station to minimize the visual clutter, including “bumpers” and truss to terminate overhead catenary system components.

·       Refine station entrances/exits at 4th Street to carefully address grade changes, and create a seamless and gradual transition to the Downtown through City-controlled plazas.

·       Identify bus stop access and enhancements according to the Big Blue Bus bus-stop improvement program.

·       Identify drop-off/pick-up access for shuttles and taxis.

·       Identify 5th Street pedestrian crosswalk locations, preserving as many crosswalk legs as possible.

·       Coordinate location of station support facilities such as the traction power sub-station (TPSS) facility, the train communication and control building, and drivers break room to ensure sound pedestrian circulation and preserve the potential for effective transit oriented development.

·       Coordinate the TPSS facility to minimize footprint and provide screening such as landscape or perimeter treatment that does not diminish the quality of the station site.

·       Identify baseline costs and identify any potential betterments associated with the Downtown Station design and construction.

·       Investigate transit-oriented development opportunities through continued conceptual design for adjacent City-owned properties.

 

 Bergamot Station

The Construction Authority’s proposed Bergamot Station design included a single center platform and an entrance/exit ramp on the west side connecting to 26th Street. The Council endorsed a side platform layout with two parallel platforms that enable direct access from the north and south on July 13, 2010.  The side platforms are currently being incorporated by the Construction Authority as a betterment to be funded by the City. Integration with Bergamot Arts Center to the south and Bergamot Transit Village to the north is greatly increased by the side platform layout.  Pedestrian crossings are needed at both ends of the station to support access from both directions and will require CPUC and Metro approval of the proposed additional eastern crossing.

 

As communicated in a memo from the City to the Construction Authority dated December 7, 2010 and resent on January 20, 2011, the need for two entrances at both the Bergamot and Memorial Park Stations is based on additional ridership identified during the LUCE process through a citywide travel demand model. The City’s LUCE travel demand model included a light rail ridership model that estimated approximately 1,300 more daily boardings at Bergamot station than the Construction Authority’s model estimates, based on more detailed local conditions (existing and future).  The new grid pattern proposed by the Bergamot Area Plan, a portion of which is included in the Papermate project proposal, will include at least one more signalized crossing on Olympic Boulevard, and will facilitate more direct arrival to the east end of the Expo station to support optimal ridership. Additionally, access for the Pico neighborhood southeast of the station is important.   

Description: Bergamot station Aug 2011

Concept for Bergamot Station with Dual Platforms Providing Direct Access to Both Sides         

 

Supporting increased integration of the station on the Bergamot Art Center property, additional advantages of the side platform configuration include the ability to remove the fence proposed between the platforms and the Art Center though a joint use agreement with Metro, and providing a future opportunity to create an integrated plaza.  And in addition to providing a pedestrian oriented entrance into Bergamot Art Center, the eastern entrance will also facilitate a connection between the Expo Bike Path and the future Michigan Avenue bike path.

Key features of the side platform betterment being incorporated by the Construction Authority:

·      4 entrances/exits to the station – one at each end of the north and south platforms to increase pedestrian access and station integration with Bergamot Art Center and with the Bergamot Transit Village north of Olympic Boulevard.

·      Narrower track spacing which allows for reduced curb alterations to the Olympic Boulevard and provides wider right-of-way for continuous bike and pedestrian circulation between Stewart and 26th Streets, better accommodating the regional bike path adjacent to the station, and allowing bicycle commuters a continuous path through the station area without having to dismount.

·      Track crossing to the east of the station platforms to provide critical access to both directions of platforms for all riders (subject to CPUC and Metro approval). Track crossing location will be coordinated with potential new crosswalks north of the station site.

·      Improved landscape and streetscape elements along Olympic Boulevard.

·      Carefully located station support facilities, including the train communication and control building, to assure efficient site circulation and future plaza integration with the Bergamot Art Center.

 

On June 28, 2011 the City Council approved an expenditure up to $245,000 to perform preliminary engineering for the City-preferred station layout for Bergamot Station. The Skanska-Rados Joint Venture team is completing the preliminary engineering and pricing work for City review and comment. The City will review the design, scope and estimate of the betterments and then negotiate a not-to-exceed price for the betterments at Bergamot Station and return for Council approval.  The City has to agree to the final design and cost, and then submit a formal betterment request in order for Skanska-Rados to incorporate the betterments into the project.  The City will continue to work with Skanska-Rados during final design to refine the design and associated costs within a not-to-exceed price.

 

Memorial Park/17th St. Station

The Construction Authority’s design for Memorial Park/17th St. Station includes a center platform with a single eastern entrance/exit ramp from the 17th Street crosswalk with the ticketing equipment located on the entrance ramp.  The Memorial Park/17th St. Station will serve Santa Monica College (SMC) students and employees, employees serving two regional hospitals, UCLA and St. John’s, as well as office and residential uses surrounding the station.  The station will experience many “surges” throughout the day, primarily based on student class schedules and hospital work shifts. It is also anticipated that this station will experience a high volume of bike-on-train ridership. To safely accommodate the anticipated capacity requirements, including surges and connections to bus, bike, and kiss-and-ride necessary for the neighborhood, the City has been working with the Construction Authority to include a second and western entrance/exit and crossing at 15th Court (subject to the California Public Utilities Commission crossing approval) as a betterment.   

 

 Description: Memorial station Aug 2011

Concept for Memorial Park/17th Street Station with Dual Entrances

 

Key features of the proposed station betterment being incorporated by the Construction Authority are:

·      A western entrance/exit ramp

·      Additional ticket vending machines and map case located on the west ramp

·      A signalized pedestrian crossing across Colorado (north and south) located at 15th Court, subject to CPUC approval 

On June 28, 2011 the City Council approved an expenditure up to $120,000 to perform preliminary engineering for the City-preferred station layout for Memorial Park/17th St Station. The Skanska-Rados Joint Venture team is completing the preliminary engineering and pricing work for City review and comment.  The City will review the design, scope and estimate of the betterments and then negotiate a not-to-exceed price for the betterments at Memorial Park/17th St Station and return for Council approval.  The City has to agree to the final design and cost, and then submit a formal betterment request in order for Skanska-Rados to incorporate the betterments into the project.  The City will continue to work with Skanska-Rados during final design to refine the design and associated costs within a not-to-exceed price.

 

In addition to a second entrance, the City’s review and comment of the betterment request includes increased circulation, queuing and transfer space on the adjacent proposed park-and-ride site as described in the July 13, 2010 Council staff report.The Construction Authority plans to build up to 70 parking spaces described in the Final EIR, but the City has proposed reconfiguring 16th Street between Olympic and Colorado to create angled or perpendicular parking to accommodate at least 50 metered park-and-ride spaces in order to use the site as a larger transit/shuttle transfer plaza.  The remaining 20 spaces could be provided as pick-up/drop-off and ADA spaces on the off-street facility.  Ultimately, the 50 park-and-ride spaces could be incorporated into the Memorial Park area planning processes or as a joint development opportunity for nearby private development. The City would need to continue to work with Metro and Expo to resolve open operational issues associated with the City’s proposal.

 

The next steps for moving forward with the Memorial Park station design are to work with the Construction Authority and Metro on the following key issues, to be developed during final design.

·      Include minimum 20-foot crosswalk widths at 17th Street; and 15th Court if crossing is approved by the CPUC.

·      Include a minimum sidewalk width of 18-20 feet along the south side of Colorado adjacent to the station to accommodate increased pedestrian volumes.

·      Relocate parking lot driveway from 17th to 16th Street to eliminate potential conflict between southbound vehicles queuing on 17th street and potentially blocking train traffic.

·      Landscaping of the medians and parking lot consistent with Metro criteria and Phase I design. 

·      Incorporate transitions between the end of the Expo regional bike path at 17th Street and the City’s existing and future bike network.

·      Continue discussions with Metro on the re-appropriation of the park-and-ride site to increase the transfer plaza, including exploration of station parking management partnerships.

 

Colorado Avenue Street Running Section

The last 1.25 miles of Expo Phase 2 on Colorado Avenue is a unique condition as the train operates within the street right-of-way and posted speed limit, along with other vehicles. Traffic and train flow will be controlled by coordinated street signals. Because Colorado Avenue has a limited 80 foot right-of-way, the introduction of a 26-foot wide LRT trackway in the center of the street requires careful reconfiguration of the remaining right-of-way space in order to maintain adequate space for pedestrians, vehicles, landscape, and infrastructure, and to preserve the character of the street. The additional space required for the trackway requires relocation of the southern curb which creates conflicts between below-ground utilities and typical above-ground streetscape elements such as street trees and lighting.

 

The approximately 1.25 mile street-running segment of Expo LRT in Santa Monica runs from the Memorial Park Station at 17th Street to the Downtown Station at 4th Street.

 

Integrating the LRT into the street and the community is an important part of the street-running section.  To assist the Construction Authority, the City prepared streetscape recommendations and cross-section alternatives for Colorado Avenue from 17th Street to the Downtown Station based on the following principles and objectives:

 

§  Ensure safety and functionality of the street

§  Balance the needs of transit, pedestrians, vehicles and other users within the vision of a “transit parkway”

§  Create a handsome mixed-use and business-friendly street

§  Minimize visual clutter

§  Meet the City’s streetscape and sustainability standards

§  Enhance and do not harm the character of Santa Monica

§  Seek to preserve on-street parking

 

Construction of the Expo LRT will entail a nearly complete reconfiguration of Colorado Avenue between 17th Street and the Downtown station.  There are challenges presented in the eighty foot right-of-way, including accommodation of multiple major underground utilities, such as a 10-foot county storm drain, sewer, water, electrical, gas and fiber optic lines.  Significant reconfiguration of underground facilities will be required, in addition to above-ground roadway and streetscape work. The design, relocation and construction of these facilities will be performed within a design/build framework with many of the details worked out at varying stages of design. 

 

The City and Construction Authority have identified these priorities to expedite within the design process:

·      Preparation of composite utility/streetscape plans for Colorado Avenue, identifying utilities, trees and lighting facilities, in close coordination with Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company, so that street tree and pedestrian/roadway light locations can be optimized within the tight utility corridor.

·      Near term coordination and negotiations between the City and the Construction Authority regarding City-requested additional pedestrian crossings (at 10th, 12th, and Euclid Streets) along Colorado Avenue, in preparation for a supplemental CPUC application.  The Construction Authority has agreed to consider a supplemental application if Metro and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are in agreement and once the baseline Project crossings have been approved by the CPUC. CPUC applications are time sensitive within the Project.

·      Advanced outreach focused on the SRJV-proposed design for replacement parking spaces located on streets perpendicular to Colorado east of Lincoln, with the potential to use these spaces for temporary construction parking.

·      Coordination of curb radii locations and trackway surface treatments to accommodate safe turning movements onto and from Colorado Avenue for a variety of vehicles including autos, SU-30 delivery trucks, resource recovery trucks, buses and fire trucks.

 

The goals and priorities for reconfiguring Colorado Avenue emphasize a functional and safe transit street, one that encourages walking, increases access to transit, supports local businesses and surrounding land uses, and accommodates emergency and service vehicle access.

 

Streetscape Elements

City streetscape facilities such as sidewalks, parkways, crosswalks, curb ramps and street lights along the light rail should reflect the character and urban design practices of Santa Monica, thus facilitating the integration of the light rail into the community and city fabric.  Due to the narrow right-of-way and a congested utility corridor along Colorado Avenue, early and expedited design coordination is necessary between sub-surface utilities and streetscape facilities.  Such expedited coordination will include working with the Construction Authority and other agencies early in the design process.  In order to expedite the resolution of above-ground and below-ground conflicts and meet the project schedule, SRJV has agreed to provide a composite utility plan locating street trees, pedestrian/roadway lights and potential betterment enhancements to assure optimum integration. The Construction Authority, SRJV and the City have agreed to identify conflicts and evaluate solutions.

 

Pedestrian Crossings

As an integrated street-running light rail segment, it is important to define convenient and consistent pedestrian crossings on Colorado to facilitate safe behavior and enable pedestrians to reach their destinations and access the stations. Frequent pedestrian connections are also necessary to provide access to the preserved street parking on the north side of Colorado and access to potential nearby replacement parking.   

 

Currently, Expo is proposing pedestrian crossings to be permitted at existing signalized intersections – east of Lincoln there are currently signals at every third intersection (11th, 14th and 17th Streets). This represents approximately Ľ mile spacing of crossings, and the City will continue to work with the Construction Authority to increase the frequency of crossings to meet the City’s pedestrian goals.  The crossings are subject to the approval of Metro and the CPUC.  Any construction costs for these crossings would be borne by the City.

Description: Description: C:\Documents and Settings\francie.stefan\Desktop\HARDSCAPE PLAN cropped Licnoln to 17.JPG

Summary of proposed and City-preferred crossings on Colorado east of Lincoln. Preserved crossings would be upgraded with signals to regulate crossing timing.

 

As discussed with Expo, Metro and CPUC staff, the City’s preference is to preserve all existing pedestrian crossings. The following approach could address some of the concerns raised by other agencies:

·       Eliminate pedestrian crossing at 9th Street because of the proximity to the electrical substation and distance from an LRT station (continuing to pursue crossing at 10th, 12th, Euclid and 15th Court),

·       Equip pedestrian crossings at unsignalized intersections with traffic signals to control pedestrian movement, and

·       Limit north-south crossing at each intersection to one side.

City staff has met with Expo, Metro and CPUC staff to discuss the additional crossings. Upon preliminary concurrence by Metro, Expo will prepare the study necessary to submit a CPUC application for crossings at 10th, 12th, Euclid and 15th Court; however, the application and approval process is lengthy and uncertain. 

 

Trackway Treatments

Vehicle turning movements, to and from Colorado Avenue, need to be re-evaluated given the reduction of the roadway to a single travel lane in each direction.  The City has provided Expo and SRJV with early curb radius recommendations for corners, many of which are being incorporated.  In cases where space is extremely limited and drivers may encroach on the trackway, the City has requested that the trackway be specially treated to provide safety, clarity of turning movement, and differentiation of the trackway from the roadway.  It will be important to the character of the street that such treatments be also aesthetically pleasing so as not to burden the environment with additional clutter.

 

Fire Department Assessment, Evaluation and Implementation

Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) staff has assessed the implementation of the proposed Colorado Avenue street-running alignment of the Exposition Light Rail. The goal of the City, Expo, METRO, and SMFD is to have a safe and functional street.

 

SMFD analyzed the feasibility of the proposed street section, investigated comparable conditions in other cities, and identified appropriate measures to compensate for the lack of a 20-foot fire engine access lane required by the California Fire Code. City staff visited Fire Departments in Long Beach, San Diego, and Portland, Oregon. The Los Angeles City Fire Department has provided best practice information and is a partner on the Fire Life Safety Committee.  Staff conducted interviews with fire department and light rail operator staff, and began discussions with Expo and Metro on operational goals. In addition, staff reviewed references from the National Fire Protection Association Standards and the California Public Utility Commission’s regulations governing the safety of light-rail transit.

 

SMFD concluded that Colorado Avenue can be an operational and a functional street with the proposed lane widths of 19.5 feet on the north side, including a 7-foot parking lane, and a 14.5-foot lane on the south side with no parking.  Overhead train electrification poles and wires would be located in the center of the tracks. SMFD identified necessary implementation measures for the 4th through 17th Street segment, assuming that a 14.5-foot southern access lane is to be provided, which have been discussed with the Construction Authority and Metro. The measures are to be implemented by the Exposition Construction Authority, City Staff, SMFD, and METRO, and include: 

·       Installation of additional fire hydrants and relocation of select Fire Department Connections (FDC).

·       Evaluate limitation of on-street parking near building entries.

·       Increasing fire access as part of redevelopment of properties, especially on the south side of Colorado.

·       Implementing operating, response and training protocol for light rail incidents.

·       Establishing regular communications with Metro.

·       Establishing with Metro standard operating procedures for LRT operations on Colorado.

·       Establishing a comprehensive rail safety outreach program to be led by Metro.

See Attachment A for the full text of the SMFD executive summary entitled “Assessment, Evaluation and Implementation of the Proposed Colorado Lane Widths.”

 

Potential Enhancements for Council Consideration

As the design-build process progresses, detailed streetscape treatments may help to integrate the LRT within Colorado Avenue.  Staff has identified the following categories as potential City-funded enhancements that could benefit the City and could be considered as the project progresses into final design. Staff could return to Council with cost estimates for these enhancements should they be pursued.

§  Sidewalk/curb extensions at pedestrian crossings; i.e. “Bump-outs”: Staff is recommending additional curb extensions at pedestrian crossings on the north side of Colorado to improve pedestrian comfort, simplify ADA compliance and reduce crossing distances. These city-funded curb extensions would be in addition to any baseline curb extensions that would be needed to accommodate the turning radius of larger vehicles or provide transitions to perpendicular parking.

§  Fencing at “T” intersections: Fencing is required between the tracks at the uncontrolled “T” intersections, including 9th, 10th, 12th, Euclid and 15th Streets, to prevent left turns onto Colorado Avenue.  The approved Metro grant includes betterment funding for more artistic fencing. The City will consider options for materials and design in order to ensure an aesthetic quality to the streetscape.

§  Landscaping and roadway treatments: The Construction Authority is committed to maintaining consistency of design with Expo Phase 1. Additional landscape and roadway treatments may be needed to meet Santa Monica’s local expectations for streetscape projects. For example, on the north side of Colorado, additional city-funded trees and pedestrian/roadway lights would provide continuity and symmetry of the street. Also, where travel lanes exceed 12 feet, additional design treatments would encourage appropriate lower vehicle speeds and provide pedestrian buffer.

§  Decorative base for OCS/lighting poles: Consistent with other poles in the City, a more attractive base to poles that support the OCS wires and street/pedestrian lighting should be considered for betterment funding.

§  Water Main upgrades or replacements: Staff is currently obtaining cost proposals to upgrade or replace the water main on Colorado between 4th to 17th Streets. Since the Construction Authority is planning to replace the majority of the existing water pipeline, upgrading or replacing the remaining components may be a cost effective approach. Replacement prior to completion of the project will provide service for potential developments with minimal disruptions in the future. 

 

Construction Implementation and Phasing Concepts

The construction implementation of the light rail project within the City of Santa Monica involves three types of roadway/trackway improvements:  grade separation, at grade street crossings, and Colorado Avenue street running improvements. Construction will be implemented with special consideration given to minimum lane closures, safe construction zones, and minimum disruption to local residents and businesses. The following sections discuss the project’s construction phasing concepts.

 

Grade Separated Construction at Olympic and Cloverfield

The light rail will cross over Cloverfield and Olympic Boulevards on an aerial structure (“grade separated”). The construction activity for these locations involves the erection of falsework for the bridge structure. Falsework consists of a temporary structure used to support the bridge in order to hold the components in place until its construction is sufficiently advanced to support itself. Typically, falsework is a composite of timber and steel I-beam construction. Travel lanes will be maintained at all times except during assembly of the falsework. The assembly of the falsework generally involves a series of weekends or overnight closures to erect the temporary structure. The street may be partially or completely closed during the false work installation, at non-peak traffic hours only.  Traffic detour and signage plans will be submitted, and reviewed by the City prior to the start of the false work for this phase.

 

Once the falsework is completed, the bridge can be constructed with just occasional closures during non-peak hours. Subsequently, the falsework needs to be disassembled, which will require a series of weekends or overnight closures. The City will require the Construction Authority to maintain all travel lanes on Olympic Blvd. and Cloverfield Blvd. during peak traffic hours between 6AM and 9:30AM and 3PM to 8PM. Thus, a minimum of two lanes in each direction and a left turn lane shall be maintained at all times, except during non-peak traffic hours.

 

At Grade Crossing Construction Locations – Intersections of City Streets

At-grade crossing will be constructed at the intersections of Stewart, 26th, 20th, and 19th Streets.  At these locations, the light rail tracks will cross existing roadways at grade.  The majority of the crossings will be constructed in two stages, where one-half of the road improvements and the track work are made while maintaining one lane in each direction on the crossing street. The work at Stewart, 26th, and 20th Streets will be conducted during non-peak hours, between the hours of 8:00PM and 6:00AM Monday through Friday. While the 19th Street intersection maybe closed if approved by the City, local access will be provided and a detour plan will be implemented. Any exemptions to these restrictions must be approved by the City.

 

Colorado Avenue Street Running Construction Phasing

The construction of the street-running section along Colorado Avenue, between 4th Street and 17th Street, is anticipated to be performed in three phases, each to include intermediate stages to complete the work at various intersections. Each construction phase along Colorado Avenue will be performed in three-to-four block segments. These phases and segments will be presented to the City, for review and approval, by the design builder prior to start of construction. The three phases of construction within the Colorado Avenue running section are anticipated to be as follows:

 

Phase 1

The first phase will consist of relocating utilities and performing street improvement work along one side of Colorado Avenue.  During this phase one traffic lane eastbound and one traffic lane westbound will be maintained. Replacement of on-street parking will be provided on adjacent side streets. If multiple construction crews are working on the street, they shall be separated by at least four blocks. Utility installation per location shall be limited to two blocks at a time. Design builder will submit a work plan to the City for proposed phasing. Work at intersections shall be done in phases in order to allow one lane of traffic in each direction on cross streets. If any of the major intersections, 17th, 14th, 11th, Lincoln, 7th, 6th, 5th or 4th Streets have to be closed to cross traffic, the closure shall be between the hours of 8:00PM and 6:00AM on weekdays and between the hours of 9:00PM and 11:00AM Saturday and Sunday.

 

Phase 2

The second phase of construction will be similar to Phase 1 above, where utilities are relocated and street improvements are constructed on the other side of Colorado. For example, if the design builder elected to work on the south side of Colorado in Phase 1, construction on the North side of Colorado will be conducted in Phase 2. The intent is to complete all work on one side of the street prior to disturbing to the opposite side. All construction road work between the new street curb and property line is to be completed prior to installation of traffic control for the construction of the mountable curb and light rail infrastructure. Any work that requires lane closure shall be completed prior to Phase 3 work.  One lane in each direction and access to adjacent business and/or residents will be maintained at all times and replacement of on-street parking will be provided on adjacent side streets similar to Phase 1 above.

 

Phase 3

The third phase entails construction of rail guideway on Colorado Avenue. One lane in each direction shall be maintained at all times except those times where full closure is authorized by the City. Work at signalized intersections will be constructed in segments in order to maintain one lane in each direction on cross streets unless otherwise approved by the City. If any of the intersections have to be closed to cross traffic, the closure shall be between the hours of 8:00PM and 6:00AM on weekdays and between the hours of 9:00PM and 11:00AM Saturday and Sunday.  Work should not be scheduled on consecutive intersections.  If needed, temporary lane closure of one block on Colorado may be allowed between the hours of 8:00PM and 6:00AM on weekdays and between the hours of 9:00PM and 11:00AM Saturday and Sunday. Access to businesses shall be maintained at all times.

Alternate parking shall be provided prior to beginning of this phase of work.

 

For construction work in the downtown, west of Lincoln Blvd, and in the proximity of freeway off-ramps and on-ramps, no street closures outside the construction zones will be allowed between November 15th and January 2nd, unless specifically authorized by the City.

 

Final Street Paving

Once the above three phases are completed, finish paving is to commence. This portion of work may be completed after hours (8:00PM and 6:00AM) on weekdays. This work will not start until all permanent improvements are in place.

 

Financial Impact and Budget Actions

Costs that are determined to be betterments to be funded by the City requiring a budget action will be brought back to Council at a future meeting. The 2011-2012 budget sets aside $5 million towards these costs to integrate the light rail line into the urban fabric of Santa Monica. City-owned real estate needed for the line will also be negotiated by City staff, Expo and Metro. New developments adjacent to the line may be asked to contribute a portion of the betterments as part of Developme

 

nt Agreement negotiations.

 

Prepared by:     Lee Swain, City Engineer

                         Alex Nazarchuk, Civil Engineer

     Francie Stefan, Strategic & Transportation Planning Manager

     Joanna Hankamer, Senior Planner

                         Sam Morrissey, Principal Transportation Engineer

                        

Approved:

 

Approved:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Pastucha

Director, Public Works

 

David Martin

Director, Planning & Community Development

 

Approved:

 

Approved:

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Ferguson

Chief, Santa Monica Fire Department

 

Kathryn Vernez,

Assistant to the City Manager, Community & Government Affairs

 

 

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rod Gould

City Manager

 

Attachments:

A. Assessment, Evaluation and Implementation of the Proposed Colorado Lane Widths


Attachment A

Assessment, Evaluation and Implementation of the Proposed Colorado Lane Widths 

Expo proposes a street section consisting of: a 19.5-foot lane on the north side, including a 7-foot parking lane; a 26-foot wide dedicated railway in the center; and a 14.5-foot lane on the south side, with no street parking.  Overhead Contact System (OCS) poles are to be located in the center of the two tracks. Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) staff has assessed the implementation of the proposed Colorado Avenue street-running alignment of the Exposition Light Rail. The goal of the City, Expo, METRO, and SMFD is to have a safe and functional street.

SMFD analyzed the feasibility of the proposed street section, investigated comparable conditions in other cities, and identified appropriate measures to compensate for the lack of a 20-foot fire engine access lane required by the California Fire Code. City staff visited Fire Departments in Long Beach, San Diego, and Portland, Oregon. The Los Angeles City Fire Department has provided best practice information and is a partner on the Fire Life Safety Committee.   Staff conducted interviews with fire department and light rail operator staff, and began discussions with Expo and METRO on operational goals. In addition, staff reviewed references from the National Fire Protection Association Standards and the California Public Utility Commission’s regulations governing the safety of light-rail transit.

SMFD concluded that Colorado Avenue can be an operational and a functional street with the proposed lane widths. The following provisions have been discussed with Expo and METRO as implementation measures for the 4th through 17th Street segment, assuming that a 14.5-foot southern access lane is to be provided. The following measures are recommended to be implemented by the Exposition Construction Authority, City Staff, SMFD, and METRO. 

1.      Expo Construction Authority:

a.      Install 11-13 additional fire hydrants on the south side of Colorado Avenue to accommodate the change in the width of the street and the reduction in operation area, from existing conditions. Installation of hydrants on the south side would eliminate the need to run fire hoses from the north side across the rail tracks, which could potentially run over by a train.

b.      Relocate three Fire Department Connections (FDC) to provide immediate accessibility.

c.      Incorporate 60-foot no-parking zones from any building entrance on the north side of Colorado in the final parking layout on Colorado Avenue. This results in a loss and potential relocation of approximately 34-parking spaces.

d.      Accommodate fire trucks and other vehicles with a wide turning radius and divert them away from the guideway. A curb modification at intersections shall be implemented to achieve proper turning radii.

 

2.      City Planning Department:

a.      Provide recommendations to Council for potential future developments that improve fire access on Colorado Avenue, especially on the southern side. This includes the potential to reconnect 9th, 10th, 12th and Euclid Streets with Colorado Avenue to improve the connectivity of the street grid and provide side street access points for fire-fighting operations.

b.      Further study and verify the feasibility of future mitigation measures such as setbacks, stepbacks, and possible parkway indents. 

c.      Study potential street treatments for the southern 14.5 foot lane to discourage speeding on the wide single lane.

 

3.      Santa Monica Fire Department:

a.      Implement standard operating procedures and training protocols for Colorado Avenue, including:

                                                    i.     Responses protocols for incidents on or around the proposed light-rail guideway;

                                                   ii.     Training procedures pertaining to a light-rail system, to be held at least twice per year or as requested; and

                                                  iii.     Protocols for power shut down including notification procedures

b.      Establish a liaison to interact with METRO. This includes creation of a joint communication plan.

c.      Conduct a response study based on station locations, track locations, and traffic changes which may lead to enhancements to City’s Fire Communication and Dispatch system.

 

4.      METRO

a.      METRO and the Fire Department have agreed to establish standard operating procedures for light-rail operations on a Colorado Avenue. This will include:

                                                    i.     A dedicated (ring down) phone number for SMFD Fire Communication to use in the event of  power shut down request or other instances;

                                                   ii.     METRO-provided engineering calculations for fire loads on the proposed trains to be used on Colorado Avenue;

                                                  iii.     The establishment of a speed limit for the trains; and

                                                  iv.     Training to be coordinated with SMFD twice a year, or as required.

                                                   v.     Access to METRO’s light-rail vehicle for Fire Department training exercises as required.

b.      Metro will launch a comprehensive public outreach program to schools and residents regarding METRO rail safety and operations.

c.      Metro will investigate the installation of blue lights on poles to indicate if overhead wires are energized.