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Long Beach: Pier J Bike Path Takes One More Step; Engineering RFP Recommended

After a tumultuous process, an engineering firm from Orange has finally won the approval from staff to begin the design process for the $8 million Pier J Bike & Pedestrian Path following the issue of a RFP last July and the submission of ten proposals in August. It will go to the Board of Harbor Commissioners for final approval next week.

The long-discussed project has been in the works since 2008, when the Port developed a conceptual plan that wanted to provide more access to Pier J and its surroundings through bike and pedestrian paths.

Simultaneously, the city was redeveloping the greater Queen Mary area (Pier H), which included the South Waterfront Bike Path (SWBP) through a grant received by the city's Redevelopment Agency (RDA). That grant from the L.A. County MTA—a matching grant of $177,305—would help fund the SWBP.

The larger hope for the project was simple: together, bicyclists and pedestrians could now access the entire Queen Mary/Pier J area—which includes Hotel Maya, The Reef, Harry Bridges Memorial Park, Catalina Cruises, The Dome, and Carnival Cruises—from downtown via the Queens Way Bridge.

However, the dissolution of the RDA in 2010 threw a (small) wrench into the project, effectively losing the ability to match the grant and therefore possibly losing it. The Port, however, saw a larger opportunity: with the proposed bike path on the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project they were already going to implement, they subsumed the cost of the grant and have decided to fund the entire Pier J bike path themselves.

The new proposed path differs from the original proposed plan for both logistical and cost reasons. Originally, access to the Residence Inn as well as Harbor Plaza was proposed; however, the land site surrounding Harbor Plaza will longer serve as the new administration headquarters for the Port (one of the larger reasons they created this loop: to encourage employees to bike to work), effectively making the extra path lineage cost ineffective.

One of the more disappointing losses is that of the Queen Mary viewing vista, in which the original proposal included that the bike path go out onto the water and around the Queen Mary along its jetty. While it would have been an utterly awesome feature, the newly confirmed path runs along the south end of the Queen Mary on land.

In short, the officially confirmed path runs from the southern tip of the Queens Way Bridge, down Queensway Drive until it becomes Harbor Plaza, south on Harbor Scenic Drive until it hits the edge of Pier J.

The engineering company, KOA Corporation, will receive $1,020,514 for their one year term in design services. Though their contract will end in October of 2014, it is unclear when the project itself will be completed.

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