The California Incline reopened on Sept. 1 after 17 months of construction.

The new bridge is 5.5 feet wider than previous bridge and is more secure thanks to 96 reinforced, concrete piles and over 1,000 new “soil nails” to stabilize the bluff above the Incline penetrating 20-75 feet into the bluffs.

In addition to wider lanes, the new incline has a two-lane separated bike path and makes use of energy-efficient LED lighting.

The original porcelain-coated “Santa Monica” sign was carefully preserved by a Santa Monica based company, Los Angeles Neon+Cathode.

The new, $17 million bridge will carry an estimated 15,000 vehicles per day and was funded nearly 90 percent through federal funds. An additional $2 million was spent on the Idaho Trail Pedestrian Overcrossing. The Overcrossing is not yet open to the public.

The original trail where the current California Incline exits was established 120 years ago in 1896, then called the “Sunset Trail.” Since, the California Incline has become a regional landmark, serving as a major gateway for both those traveling southbound on the Pacific Coast Highway into the City of Santa Monica, and also for those leaving the City for destinations along the California coast. The Incline has also become iconic for its perennial presence in popular culture, ranging from photography to film. The California Incline was opened to vehicular traffic in 1905, and was significantly upgraded in 1930 to a 46.5- foot roadway that included a series of 5 small bridges along the bluffs, and a narrow 4-foot sidewalk to accommodate pedestrians.

In the early 1990’s the City requested approval from CALTRANS to fund another upgrade for the bridge, as its sufficiency rating continued to decline, a condition that qualifies its replacement for federal assistance.

After extensive planning and public outreach, the City Council certified the required Environmental Impact Reports in 2012, and cleared the project for final design and local and state approvals. The City closed the Incline for re-construction on April 20, 2015.

In November 2015, the City Council approved expediting the replacement of the Idaho Trail Pedestrian Overcrossing (of the Incline), in order to avoid having to close the Incline once again for that project. The California Incline is open and the Pedestrian Overpass will reopen in the following weeks.

Both bridges were replaced and now meet current seismic safety standards. The City replicated the classic look of the outside rail of the previous bridge constructed in 1930 to pay homage to the California Incline’s and Sunset Trail’s long and rich history. The design, taking into account shifting paradigms of mobility, and fostering wellbeing among the community, includes a widened bridge to accommodate a separated pedestrian path and new bike lanes. The City also retained and refreshed the historic Santa Monica Sign near the base of the Incline to provide that familiar welcoming to those entering the City from the north.

  • Submitted by Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Coordinator