BEACH: A contract has been approved for work on the beach path to separate bikes and pedestrians.

Construction on three miles of walking and biking paths along Santa Monica State Beach will begin later this summer.

Council approved a $12.3 million contract with two engineering firms last week for renovations to the Santa Monica Beach Trail and Ocean Front Walk that will make the paths safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The project has been in the works since 2016 and is meant to address frequent congestion on the heavily trafficked trails.

After construction is completed in about one year, cyclists and pedestrians on the beach trail will be able to use separate paths from Bay Street to northern city limits. A 16-feet wide, two-way bike path and 12-foot wide pedestrian path will stretch for two miles, separated by a concrete curb. The path is currently only 14 feet wide and shared by both cyclists and pedestrians.

“This existing width does not adequately accommodate the volume of cyclists and pedestrians now using the Beach Trail,” city of Santa Monica staff said.

There will also be wayfinding signage on the path where it travels through the parking lot north of the Santa Monica Pier and a plaza near the pier entrance so bikes can pull off the bike path in an area typically crowded with pier and beach visitors.

“Many of these areas are prone to congestion and potential conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists,” staff said. “There are inadequate crossing points for visitors parking in the (parking lot) to cross the single bike path as they head to and from the beach and the pier.”

Ocean Front Walk will receive upgrades as well. New paving, lighting and concrete seating walls will be installed north of the pier. After construction concludes, pedestrians will be able to get to and from overpasses over the Pacific Coast Highway to the beach more easily.

The city conducted community outreach for the projects in spring 2017, which included an in-person survey on the beach trail and an online survey. The surveys drew 1,000 responses.

The city presented a design concept for the renovations at an open house on the beach in May 2017 and invited residents of the homes along the beach to review the final design in March 2018.

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