LINCOLN BLVD — Practice your detours.
Lincoln Boulevard will be closed at Colorado Avenue for a week starting Monday for the laying of Expo Light Rail tracks.
The worst Expo construction closure, according to city traffic officials, already happened back in January when parts of Fifth Street, including the Interstate 10 freeway off-ramp, were down for 10 days.
“There’s a couple more options for vehicles as they get to the closure on Lincoln,” said Sam Morrissey, City Hall’s lead traffic engineer. “Fifth street, because it was right off the freeway off-ramp, once you were there you didn’t really have much choice. You were kind of stuck in it.”
Lincoln will be closed at Colorado. Southbound traffic will be detoured at Olympic Boulevard. Northbound traffic will be detoured at Santa Monica Boulevard. Eleventh Street is the recommended alternative.
Colorado will be closed to through traffic from Seventh to Ninth streets but will stay open for local drivers. Turns from Colorado onto Lincoln won’t be allowed. Traffic will be detoured at 11th. Santa Monica Boulevard is the recommended alternative.
The freeway exits will stay open but city officials are recommending that the Cloverfield Boulevard exit be used instead.
Bay Cities Italian Deli, located on Lincoln between Colorado and Broadway, is known for its booming lunch rush. General Manager Hector Padilla said he’s crossing his fingers that the closure doesn’t have a huge impact.
“I think the lunch rush will still be the same, between the 10:30 a.m. to 2 o’clock,” he said. “I think it’s going to be mostly the locals, the ones who are walking or able to drive three or four blocks. After that, we tossed around that we might just close for the week or maybe have shortened hours.”
A representative from Expo spoke with them about the construction but ultimately, Padilla said, there isn’t much that anyone can do.
“Me personally, I see it as progress,” he said. “It is what it is. They can’t fix that street being open, because they just can’t do that.”
Sundays are usually jammed at Bay Cities, Padilla said, but the road closures during the Los Angeles Marathon have left the deli lame in recent years.
“I’m crossing my fingers,” he said. “People are still going to eat.”
The biggest challenge for City Hall is the truckers. Lincoln is a local trucking route.
“We don’t want them getting off and kind of weaving through these non-truck routes streets,” Morrissey said. “We will have our commercial enforcement officers out there to make sure that their not disturbing residential neighborhoods.”
It’s not so much the big truck companies that City Hall is worried about; those are easy to contact. It’s the mom and pop delivery trucks that tend to fly under the radar.
“It’s truck traffic that doesn’t necessarily come to town to get a special oversized load permit,” he said. “A lot of delivery trucks that are just used to making their rounds in the city, they’re used to using Lincoln Boulevard because that’s a truck route and that’s just how they go.”
City and expo officials have reached out to local businesses and put up warning signs miles in advance of the closure. They want truck drivers to use Cloverfield.
If the Fifth Street closure is any indication, the Lincoln closure should be relatively smooth.
“I think overall it went as good as we could expect it to go,” Morrissey said. “It was certainly impactive but it was during a pretty slow week of traffic and honestly I think it went fine. We didn’t have too many problems.”
Fifth was closed in slow early January. The Lincoln closure, which ends April 28, will start the first day that Santa Monica High School students are coming back from spring break and as beach season heats up.
“Lincoln, there’s lots of ways to avoid that closure and we’re really expanding our message out to let people know as far in advance as possible that the Lincoln intersection at Colorado and Lincoln is closed,” Morrissey said. “That said, Lincoln is a very busy street.”