The widening and realignment of Lincoln Boulevard (State Route 1) is the main component of Phase I of Caltrans’ (California Department of Transportation) improvement project in the Marina area, said Gabe Hamidi, project manager for Caltrans District 7.

Hamidi presented the project information at a meeting of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce Marina Affairs Committee Tuesday, May 1st, at Tony P’s Restaurant in Marina del Rey.

A second left-turn lane from Lincoln Boulevard onto Mindanao Way has now been opened, but with no signs or announcements. Commuters on Saturday, May 5th, said they found themselves pulling out of the new left-turn lane, which had previously been a straight-through lane on Lincoln Boulevard, and attempting to get into a through-lane on Lincoln Boulevard with a few near-miss accidents.

The widening project has been established to accommodate traffic growth along Lincoln Boulevard related to development in the area, and the improvements are expected to increase route capacity, improve traffic flow and enhance safety, according to Hamidi.

The current ongoing construction on Lincoln Boulevard is being delayed until the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power can install water lines and AT&T can reposition their fiber optic cables, which should take another two weeks, Hamidi said.

Asphalt will then be put down on Lincoln Boulevard, with traffic switched to the west side to construct the center of the street, and then switched to the east side, with project completion in mid-2008, said Hamidi.

Phase I is estimated to cost over $9 million, with construction 40 percent complete, and Phase II began in March, Hamidi said.

The main component of Phase I is to widen and realign Lincoln Boulevard from LMU Drive to just south of Bali Way, and improve the intersection of Lincoln and Sepulveda Boulevards.

According to Caltrans documentation, construction will take place at three locations with some work occurring concurrently:

‘ from Fiji Way to Bali Way, lighting and signal improvements as well as narrowing of the median and the addition of a right-turn lane from northbound Lincoln Boulevard to eastbound Mindanao Way;

‘ between LMU Drive and Fiji Way, upon completion there will be four lanes northbound from LMU Drive to Jefferson Boulevard and four lanes southbound from Jefferson Boulevard, narrowing to three lanes just north of LMU Drive, and a large drainage system is being constructed underneath Lincoln Boulevard just north of LMU Drive connecting future marshland both east and west of Lincoln Boulevard;

‘ intersection of Lincoln and Sepulveda Boulevards will be widened to four lanes in each direction.

Phase I, which also includes the restriping on Mindanao Way, will end mid-2008, said Hamidi.

Phase II will widen and realign Lincoln Boulevard from La Tijera Boulevard to LMU Drive to provide an additional northbound lane along with traffic signal modifications, according to Hamidi.

Phase II would include replacing the Culver Boulevard overcrossing at Lincoln Boulevard and construction of a new bridge over Ballona Creek consistent with the California Coastal Act, but the schedule is being reassessed, and this project would require approval by the California Coastal Commission, said Hamidi.

An application requesting funding for the bridge project, which would widen the abutment and allow widening of Lincoln Boulevard to Fiji Way, must be submitted for approval, competing with other project funding applications in the State of California, according to Hamidi.

If approved by the California Coastal Commission, a parallel bridge to the existing Culver Boulevard overcrossing would be built to maintain the flow of traffic until the new bridge is constructed, Hamidi said.

From LMU to Ballona Creek north on Lincoln Boulevard, the project includes transit access, and habitat protection with buffers for native vegetation to the freshwater marsh with street lighting that minimally spills over to the marsh.

The project also includes a sidewalk added by Caltrans on the east side of Lincoln Boulevard, and a pedestrian/bicycle access 12-foot wide multi-use path for pedestrians and bicycles at Bluff Creek Drive and the west side of Lincoln Boulevard, with a trail connected to the multi-use path.

Transit access for the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) and the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus will include a five-foot shoulder on both sides of Lincoln Boulevard from LMU to Jefferson Boulevard with bus shelters, said Hamidi.

One of the main reasons Lincoln Boulevard is being widened is to provide access for evacuation in case of an emergency, such as an earthquake or tsunami, said Hamidi.

Hamidi told the audience that there is constant communication between his offices and city and county offices regarding traffic projects and issues in response to a question about the three entities communicating with one another.