So far, so good.
Following the closure of the California Incline two weeks ago, traffic patterns have been normal, Acting Principal Traffic Engineer Andrew Maximous told the Daily Press.
“We haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “We’ve seen our typical traffic patterns along Ocean Avenue. We’ve adjusted all of our signal coordination and timing along Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard, which are our primary detour routes. We believe that’s been helping people get through the areas that are identified as detours.”
The incline, which allows drivers to travel between the Pacific Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue on the bluffs above, closed for a yearlong construction project at the end of last month. It has long needed a seismic retrofitting and will get a $20 million overhaul covered largely by federal grants.
In the past, when city officials have closed the incline for maintenance, they’ve seen a back-up on the Interstate 10 freeway off-ramp leading to Lincoln Boulevard.
Maximous credited outreach efforts — on social media, in traditional media, and via sign boards on the Pacific Coast Highway — for the smooth traffic patterns thus far.
“We’ve gotten really positive feedback from the community, especially in the area North of Montana and within the canyon,” he said, “and we have staff that have been monitoring and sitting in our traffic management center. They were here for the first week after the closure and they’ve been here on the weekends.”
Starting Memorial Day they’ll be working seven days a week, monitoring and making adjustments.
“Right now you’re seeing all the commuters make the adjustment,” Maximous said. “We’re gearing up to accommodate the influx of visitors and tourists that are going to be coming in and locals that are going to be coming in when school is wrapped up and into the summer season so we’re gearing up for that. Our plan is to be very flexible if there’s any adjustments that are needed, we’ll take care of them as soon as possible and hopefully they’re identified as soon as possible.”
Much has been made of the potential impacts of the incline closure, especially in conjunction with other closures throughout the city, like those related to the incoming Expo Light Rail. Maximous said that city officials have learned from past closures, like Carmageddon, when miles of the 405 freeway were closed.
“I haven’t been surprised, actually,” he said of the incline’s relatively low impact on the traffic patterns. “Going through what happened with Carmageddon and the other closures that have happened, particularly on the Westside, we’ve seen that the public has been very receptive and aware of these things.”
Maximous said that the city is committed to flexibility and outreach as the project continues.
“I don’t think we were trying to over-warn people,” he said, “we just wanted to make sure that everyone knows what’s going to happen so there’s no surprises. We can’t get the word out to everybody but we hope that the folks that are caught off guard or didn’t get the word, that there’s enough detour signage or other ways to navigate the closure.”
The incline is expected to reopen in the spring of next year.