Right before Thanksgiving, City Council rejected plans for a major transit hub on public property next to the last stop of the incoming Expo Light Rail, fearing that a proposed bus depot would jam the surrounding streets.

On Tuesday, council will consider a new proposal — one without the six Big Blue Bus berths proposed in the previous iteration.

Instead, under the plan — which could be partially completed by early next year for the opening of the Expo line — two bus stops would be added to the surrounding area but not in the depot itself.

The bus pads would be built on Fifth Street, next to the station, which will run between Fourth and Fifth streets on Colorado Avenue.

(Full disclosure: The current Daily Press offices would be surrounded by this project.)

An upper lot would be built with 10 parking spaces, two shuttle spaces, and six “kiss-and-ride” spots. Kiss-and-ride spaces will allow commuters to be dropped off or picked up at the rail station by a driver. The upper lot would be built along Fifth Street and is expected to be finished for Expo’s opening.

A second phase would follow — scheduled for completion half a year later — adding a lower lot with six shuttles spaces and 11 kiss-and-ride spaces. The upper lot would then be remodeled to add 30 parking spaces.

Up to four metered parking spaces would need to be removed along Palm Court, a small thoroughfare that runs parallel to Fifth Street near the incoming station.

Down the road, City Hall could consider adding a Fourth Street entrance to the transit center.

Construction of the transit center would cost about $2 million; the previous iteration would have cost $6.6 million. An additional $1.4 million will need to be spent on preliminary analysis and site planning work, bringing the total cost to $3.4 million, compared to $8 million for the previous plan.

Members of council had asked city officials to ratchet back the scope and cost of the original design.

The previous iteration of the plan also included public restrooms and an information kiosk. These do not appear in the updated version of the plan.

Early reviews from local stakeholders have been good, according to the report from the Planning Department to council.

They like the plan’s “light touch” and the fact that it’s flexible. They’re also supportive of adding curb-cuts on Fourth Street. They’re concerned about the removal of those metered parking spaces along Palm Court.

The board of Downtown Santa Monica Inc., the public-private company that manages Downtown for City Hall, voted unanimously in favor of the plan, according to the Planning Department’s report, and asked them to move ahead quickly.

Council will consider approving the conceptual design and allocating cash for this project at Tuesday night’s meeting.


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