It was a funky piece of South Bay beach infrastructure.
The steep access ramp to the sand at Avenue A in Redondo Beach was just wide enough for one person, loaded down with a chair and a beach bag, to traverse.
It was also a wicked workout for anyone needing an alternative to the 72 stairs at Avenue C. And it’s been, undoubtedly, on the receiving end of many “I-dare-ya” stunts of skateboarding youths over the years.
But the 267 feet of the Avenue A ramp that connects Esplanade to the sand is closed for good.
And replacing the ramp with ADA-compliant access could cost Los Angeles County $2 to 2.5 million, according to Nicole Mooradian, spokeswoman for the county’s Beaches and Harbors Department.
It will also be awhile before work on the new ramp begins.
Determining the new ramp’s design and getting construction approvals will take at least two years, according to Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office, who first announced the ramp’s closure on Twitter just before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“The current ramp is already steep and very narrow,” Hahn spokeswoman Liz Odendahl wrote in an email, “and the department is looking to replace it with an ADA-compliant ramp to improve access for disabled beachgoers.”
Beaches and Harbors decided to close the Avenue A ramp to the public after an October draft engineering report recommended “closure, complete removal and replacement.”
That report called the ramp a “public safety hazard.”
The Avenue A ramp, based on the construction style, was built sometime in the 1960s, Mooradian said. At the time, the beach there was owned by the state, as LA County didn’t get control of Redondo Beach until more than 30 years later, in 1995.
Because of its advanced age, according to the engineer’s report, the type and size of the foundation supporting the 36-to-60 foot retaining wall, which holds back tons of dirt, is unknown. That made coming up with an interim solution to shore up the dirt and stabilize the wall nearly impossible, Mooradian said.
Rain could cause the wall to fail, according to the engineering report.
Deciding to close the ramp was the easy part, Mooradian said. The hard work comes afterwards.
California Building Code requires an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible path be installed once existing structures are removed, if there aren’t any others nearby. The closest ADA access to the north is at the Redondo Beach Pier. To the south, the closest ADA access is at Torrance Beach.
So, Mooradian said, the county is hopeful they’ll be able to redesign the Avenue A ramp for the proper access.
But first, the county must apply for development permits from the California Coastal Commission and Redondo Beach.
Regrading the bluff, rebuilding the ramp and re-landscaping the area would take only about six months, Mooradian said, but obtaining a permit from the Coastal Commission can take up to a year.
Then, there are topographical and geological surveys to complete, Mooradian said.
Funding for the project will likely come from an extra maintenance fund administered by the county’s CEO, she said. The County Board of Supervisors will seek the funding during its annual budgeting process, Mooradian added.
Due to the sudden nature of the ramp closing, Mooradian said, there is no design, rendering or vision yet for the new access pathway.
“I don’t know when construction will start or end,” Mooradian said. “Or whether the hillside will have to be razed. We can’t just rebuild the same path.”
Any ADA-compliant access ramp would likely have to include switchbacks, landings and handrails, Odendahl said, because of the steep nature of the slope at Avenue A.
An ADA access ramp can have no more than a 12.5% slope, according to the engineering report. The Avenue A ramp, Mooradian said, was “definitely steeper than 12.5%.”
Of all of the beach access ramps in Redondo Beach to close, she said, the Avenue A ramp was probably the least inconvenient one to shutter. Pedestrians have easy access to well-maintained ramps just a few blocks north at both Knob Hill and Avenue C, she said.
“If this were an Avenue C closure,” Morradian said, “that would not be good.”