The highly anticipated grand opening of the new Santa Monica Place kicks off today at 10 a.m. City officials are expecting a large turnout and have launched what they call a number of transportation improvements to ease traffic flow.

Here they are:

• Additional signage throughout Downtown directing visitors and residents to available parking for Santa Monica Place, the Santa Monica Pier, and beaches.

• Changeable message signs throughout the city, on Interstate 10 westbound, and on Pacific Coast Highway southbound directing visitors and residents to available parking.

• Modification of the traffic signal and roadway striping at Second Street and Colorado Avenue to provide an exclusive right-turn lane for westbound vehicles wishing to travel northbound on Second Street.

• Coordination with Santa Monica Police Department staff for traffic control at Downtown intersections as-needed.

• Installation of new video detection systems at Fourth Street and Colorado to monitor traffic volumes and parking activities.

• In addition to the permanent Santa Monica Place valet location on Second Street, additional valet zones will be operating around Santa Monica Place throughout the weekend.

City staff will continue to monitor changes in travel patterns and traffic flow in order to identify additional improvements that may be necessary. 

Over the next few weeks, City staff plan to test other transportation improvement measures throughout Downtown to address other traffic-related issues. 

“Our goal is to use all available tools to improve parking and traffic circulation in the Downtown,” said Sam Morrissey, principal transportation engineer for City Hall.

In addition to the traffic measures, City Hall is offering these tips for getting around Downtown.

• Park at the Civic Center: this “colorful” parking structure at the corner of Fourth and Olympic is one of the city’s best parking spots. Just two blocks from the beach and the Third Street Promenade, you can park all day for $9 — only $3 when you enter after 6 p.m. The Main Library lot at Seventh and Santa Monica Boulevard is also a great option at just $3 each day. 

 During Santa Monica Place grand reopening weekend, Aug. 6, 7 and 8, parking in the Civic Center Structure, Civic Auditorium Lot and the North Civic Lot across from City Hall will all be $5 flat rate all day. 

• Biking is a great way to get around Santa Monica. Take advantage of the city’s free bike valets available for the Main Street Farmers’ Market, Twilight Dance Series, special events like GLOW and the reopening of Santa Monica Place Mall.

• Self-park your bike anytime – new bike racks are going up throughout the Downtown area, and Parking Structure 7 adjacent to Santa Monica Place will have a bank of racks for more than 100 bikes.

• Take the Big Blue Bus.  Fast, inexpensive and convenient for residents throughout Santa Monica, the Big Blue Bus routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 & 10 and Rapid 3 & 7 all stop in the Downtown area.  New 30 Day and 13 Ride Passes are coming in August – check schedules and fares at www.bigbluebus.com or visit blue: the transit store at 223 Broadway.

• When parking at the mall, don’t forget to pay before you leave — the mall structures (7 and 8) now feature walk-up automated payment machines so you can cruise out of the structure faster.

• Use the Lincoln Boulevard exit and take Seventh Street to Colorado or Broadway to access Downtown — those streets are usually less crowded than other routes. Also note that Broadway and Arizona are alternatives to busy Santa Monica Boulevard.

• In addition, on Saturdays and Sundays the Mini Blue Tide Ride will ferry you between points at the pier, Main Street and throughout Downtown for just 50 cents per ride (25 cents for seniors/disabled/Medicare).

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