Construction Update: California Incline Closure on Horizon

California Incline

Driving along Pacific Coast Highway may be one of the most scenic commutes in the country, but lately it’s been one of the slowest due to a slew of ongoing construction projects between Santa Monica and Malibu. 

Here’s the latest on potential commute tie-ups. 

$20-million California Incline demolition begins soon 

A project to rebuild the seismically deficient California Incline in Santa Monica is set to break ground in January or February of 2015. 

For those familiar with the commute, the Incline project will overlap for approximately four months with the ongoing sewer project, which has narrowed PCH down to one lane at Chautauqua Boulevard in both directions. Those accustomed to taking the California Incline, which connects California Avenue in Santa Monica to PCH, will be rerouted to Moomat Ahiko Way. 

The Incline will be closed for an estimated 18 months, according to the City of Santa Monica, as workers widen the bridge and install stronger pilings. 

All Federal funding and permits have been obtained, and the project will cost approximately $20 million and should be completed by spring 2016. 

Sewer project estimated to be done by April 2015 

It feels like just yesterday when construction began for the “Coastal Interceptor Relief Sewer” at PCH and Chautauqua in April this year. Now, workers have passed the halfway point and all lanes of PCH in Santa Monica should reopen for use in April 2015. Currently, one lane of traffic is closed in both directions throughout the day as the City of Los Angeles completes a beach sewer project. 

Westside Expo line nears completion 

Construction of the incoming Expo Light Rail is now 80 percent complete. 

Earlier this month, Phase 1 of the Expo line — which runs from Culver City to Downtown LA and opened in April of 2012 — was connected to Phase 2, which will end in Downtown Santa Monica. 

Crews tied together electrical component of Phase 2 with the under-construction Phase 1 at the Culver City station on Nov. 8. The tie-ins were expected to be completed over the weekend. 

“Crews worked throughout the weekend to pull the wire and fiber optic cable from Phase 2 into Phase 1 and route it into the Communications and Systems building at Culver City Station,” Expo officials said in a release. “The existing dead-end Overhead Catenary System poles and bumper posts were removed so that rail equipment can travel onto the Venice Boulevard Bridge and along the rest of the Phase 2 alignment when it opens.” 

Expo officials say the construction project remains on-schedule to be completed by next year, though many have speculated that it may be ahead of schedule.

Outgoing L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the audience of January’s State of the City address that Expo was under budget and ahead of schedule. It could open earlier than projected, he said at the time. 

The lack of rain during this record-level drought has made things easier for construction teams, Expo officials have acknowledged. 

A current union dispute surrounding Japanese rail car manufacturer Kinki Sharyo could hinder timely delivery of new cars, Gaby Collins, Exposition Construction Authority government and community relations manager told the Daily Press last month. 

Metro, not Expo, is the handling that issue. 

“Sticking to our schedule and having no trains available would be a big issue for the project,” she said in October. 

Contractor testing for the line could begin as early as January 2015, Collins said. After construction is complete, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will conduct three to six months of testing and set an opening date. 

Sections of Colorado Boulevard, and other Santa Monica city streets, have been closed intermittently for months. 

Three stations will open in Santa Monica with the terminus station located at Fourth and Colorado. 

A portion of this story originally appeared in the Santa Monica Daily Press.