Long Beach officials are planning to start a $1 million project to add bike lanes along Edwards Boulevard to make the quarter-mile street more accessible to the beach.
The city is using a $1.06 million state grant awarded in 2015 by the Department of Transportation to improve walkability from Park Avenue to the boardwalk.
Officials completed several meetings with residents last month to gain input before work is slated to start this fall. The city held a community forum last month and showed renderings and design plans before two city council meetings.
The city’s Planning Director Patricia Bourne said the goal of the project is to increase safety for pedestrians and make the street more flood resilient.
“We wanted the community to understand the project and why we are doing this,” Bourne said. “We want to do this as quickly as possible and be respectful of community needs.”
Design plans call for adding clearly identified bike paths and decals on Edwards Boulevard and extending intersections and walkways for pedestrians to cross the street and alert drivers of crosswalks. The redesigned intersection would extend the sidewalks into the road and shorten the distance for people to cross the street, Bourne said.
Edwards Boulevard will also be repaved to add more drainage beneath medians and graded with sidewalk improvements so rain water and storm surges don’t flood the road. Improvements also include stormwater storage vaults, new trees and green medians.
Long Beach was awarded a competitive grant from the Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program to select Edwards based on its pedestrian traffic from the LIRR station at Park Avenue to the boardwalk at the beach, Bourne said.
“Not only will the road be repaved and the landscaping enhanced, but the project will reduce flooding and increase pedestrian and bicycle safety,” City Council President Anthony Eramo said. “These are critical infrastructure improvements in our city."
Officials plan to seek additional grants and other funding to improve other streets leading from the city’s main drag to the boardwalk.
Residents told city officials during community meetings that they did not want to see changes to parking and asked to stop trucks from blocking Edwards while making deliveries off Park Avenue. Parallel parking will continue between Park Avenue and the boardwalk, and striped diagonal parking will remain near the beach and at medians by stores on Park.
City officials said they plan to put in trees at the corner of Edwards and Park to block trucks from parking on sidewalks while making deliveries at the intersection. Different trees will be planted near the beach that can withstand sand and water, Bourne said.
Construction is set to begin after the city’s summer beach season and is expected to last four to six months, Bourne said.