Residents joined with Santa Monica city officials and county leaders Thursday to celebrate the re-opening of the iconic California Incline, the picturesque ramp connecting Pacific Coast Highway and trendy downtown Santa Monica.
The roadway underwent a $17 million tear-down and rebuild designed to make the roadway wider, safer and less susceptible to earthquakes.
"This took 17 months and it was about $17 million," Mayor Tony Vasquez said, adding, "90 percent of that came from the federal government in the form of grants."
The closure of the Incline had a ripple-effect that often snarled traffic throughout downtown Santa Monica and forced motorists to divert to the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and PCH.
Construction crews demolished the 1,400-foot, 1930s-vintage roadway, including the 750-foot-long bridge, and replaced it with a wider, more earthquake-safe structure.
According to the city, the previous bridge included an 8-foot concrete slab that was supported by concrete transverse beams. The replacement bridge is supported by pilings and is 5 feet 8 inches wider. It also includes bike lanes and a sidewalk.
The north and south ends of the incline have three traffic lanes, with traffic signals on each end.
The newly rebuilt Incline includes dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes, which were a welcome addition for residents trying to access the beach.
"The dramatic incline as you walk it offers fabulous views of this ocean," County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.
The roadway was opened to bicyclists and pedestrians at 10 a.m. for a four-hour vehicle-free party. Vehicles will be allowed on the Incline beginning at 5 p.m.