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Redondo Beach Transforms Busy Highway Into User-Friendly Street

Contact: Brad Lindahl, capital projects program manager, City of Redondo Beach; phone: (310) 372-1171, ext. 2286; e-mail: Brad.Lindahl@redondo.org.


Artesia Boulevard carries between 35,000 and 45,000 vehicles daily through the cities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Lawndale. The street is lined with residential units, commercial areas and a regional shopping mall, the South Bay Galleria. Maintenance on the street had declined over the years; the road was deteriorating and aging trees had damaged the median curb and gutters.
 
This 2.7-mile segment of a neglected state highway spanning four jurisdictions was transformed into an attractive, pedestrian-oriented street, with minimal disruption to commuters, businesses and residents.
As part of Route 91, the street fell under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Efforts to return the highway to local controlbegan in 1988 when the Redondo Beach City Council initiated negotiations with Caltrans, which continued on and off for more than a decade. As a group, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Lawndale secured a Caltrans relinquishment agreement in February 2001, and control was transferred to the local jurisdictions in October 2001. As part of the agreement, the cities received $7 million, and Redondo Beach’s share was $4.7 million. An ambitious joint effort was undertaken by the four cities to restore the pavement surface, replace traffic signals and introduce new landscaping. Redondo Beach was the lead agency.
An Integrated Design Solution
The four jurisdictions developed a three-pronged approach for the solution:
  1. Develop a unified approach to project funding and construction oversight within each of the four jurisdictions;
  2. Conduct an extensive public outreach campaign before, during and after construction; and
  3. Employ innovative construction management techniques to expedite project completion.
Public Outreach Begins Early
Public outreach was an integral part of the project and actually began a year prior to project initiation, when utility companies replaced underground lines during the summer of 2002. This gave the city an early start in developing relationships in the area.
During the design phase, three community meetings were held. Letters were sent to more than 10,000 area residents. Ads were placed in newspapers, and businesses along Artesia Boulevard received hand-delivered invitations to meetings. Interested parties were e-mailed and changeable message signs were erected. Regular project updates were presented to the North Redondo Beach Business Association (NRBBA).
During construction, the city maintained a public outreach office on Artesia Boulevard, where staff manned a hotline and delivered weekly updates to businesses. During the 10 days of nighttime grinding and paving, staff answered the hotline
24 hours a day.
City staff and volunteers from the Redondo Beach Economic Development Council (a city-chamber of commerce partnership) visited every local business owner to address concerns. A cooperative business advertising program was implemented, and the campaign to brand the roadway as “The Boulevard” began.
Streetscape Design Takes on Coastal Theme
A landscape architecture firm was selected in April 2002 to develop a streetscape plan for Artesia Boulevard and the intersecting arterial, Inglewood Avenue. After a series of public meetings, the conceptual plan incorporating a coastal theme was approved in December 2002. A commitment was made to complete the project before the 2003 holiday shopping season so as not to impact the South Bay Galleria. The Galleria and adjacent retail businesses contribute 35 percent of Redondo Beach’s sales tax revenue.
Construction Incentives Move Project Along
The construction management strategies included prequalifying contractors, allowing extended work hours (including overnight paving), prepurchasing large specimen trees, and implementing a system of bonuses and penalties tied to project-on-time completion.
The city demolished an empty restaurant in exchange for using the site as a construction staging area. City crews relocated dozens of trees and bushes from the medians to city parks. The city allowed area businesses to install nonconforming signs and banners to promote their businesses and reduced parking enforcement. Local businesses were promoted using humorous signs in the style of vintage Burma Shave billboards.
In early 2003, while the final plans were being developed, the city prequalified five contractors. The city subsequently awarded a construction contract on May 6, and construction began on June 1, 2003. All jurisdictions and utilities attended weekly meetings with the general contractor.
By including a bonus of $10,000 per day (up to a maximum of $100,000) in the construction agreement and allowing extended work hours, the project was completed on Nov. 12, 2003 — 10 days ahead of schedule. (A $10,000 per day penalty for late delivery was also part of the agreement.)
Open for Holiday Business
As promised to the community, the project was completed before the 2003 holiday shopping season. The completion was celebrated by all the agencies with a grand reopening on Dec. 3, 2003. The evening included a “Dine Around” event, co-sponsored by the chamber.
The city hoped the new streetscape would spur development along the Artesia corridor. In the year since project completion, that goal has been realized. A six-unit condominium project, a mixed-use senior/ commercial complex (48 residential units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space), and a 192-unit senior housing complex have commenced construction. A Target store is under construction just off Artesia Boulevard on Kingsdale Avenue.
The city, the chamber of commerce, and the NRBBA continue working cooperatively to attract new businesses. Additional public and private investments are anticipated in the future. NRBBA members voiced praise for the project and many reported that business is up this year.
In the 12 months following project completion, there was a 30 percent decrease in traffic collisions on Artesia Boulevard, a 50 percent decrease in injuries, and a decrease in the number of pedestrians and bicyclists involved in collisions. In addition, the Police Department reported a 7 percent reduction in crimes, including burglary, robbery and aggravated assault.
The Artesia Boulevard and Inglewood Avenue Improvements Project would have been just another street improvement project had it not been for the multi-jurisdictional cooperation and innovative public outreach and construction management strategies implemented throughout the design, bidding and construction process. The improvements to Artesia Boulevard have provided a major catalyst for business and housing development. These strategies make the project unique and worth replicating in other jurisdictions.
The City of Redondo Beach won an Award for Excellence for this project in the Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.