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.
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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.