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End of (Bumpy) Road for The Strand : Hermosa Beach: A 17-block section of the famed promenade will be temporarily closed off for repairs. The $1-million project will begin in March, with completion expected by June.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Imagine Las Vegas closing off its strip, Hollywood digging up its Walk of Fame, Atlantic City shutting its boardwalk. Or Hermosa Beach sealing off--even temporarily--its Strand.

But that is exactly what is going to happen, in Hermosa Beach.

In a public improvement project that will disrupt the daily flow of thousands of bikers, joggers, skaters and others, the city intends to demolish and then rebuild a 17-block section of the famed promenade.

The popular seaside boardwalk, installed in its current form in the 1940s and 1950s but dating back decades before that, has been slowly crumbling under heavy traffic--not to mention the lawsuits it has generated.

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“I don’t know if you’re a skier, but it’s almost like going through moguls (bumps),” said Steve Fahringer, 27, a Playa del Rey student who uses his rollerblades along The Strand. “I’m not worrying about falling in the cracks as I’m going along, but I see how some people would have problems.”

City engineers said this week that the project, funded by about $1 million in county transportation funds, will likely begin in March and be finished by the start of summer vacation in June, when crowds of beach-goers turn the 20-foot-wide pathway into Hermosa Beach’s Main Street.

Engineers acknowledge that tampering with The Strand is akin to a major freeway repair. People will be rerouted around the construction through an alley known as Beach Drive half a block away. Only small stretches of the walkway will be demolished at a time, city officials said, to cause as little turmoil as possible.

“There will be some disruption to the normal routine,” said William Glickman, the city’s interim public works director. “We’ll do what we can to minimize that. But every time you perform some construction, there is going to be some noise and some annoyances. We don’t want to tear the whole thing out in one fell swoop.”

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But no matter how they do it, it’s going to be a mess--thanks to The Strand’s popularity.

As long as the sun is shining, the 1.8-mile stretch becomes the action-packed center of town.

Crowds line up for seats on the outdoor patio at the Good Stuff restaurant. Tourists come and go from the Sea Sprite Motel. Residents of the million-dollar properties lining the walkway set up easy chairs and watch the crush of people go by.

“On a weekend, there are always people coming by,” said Kip Brady, 24, a tennis instructor who rents a house on The Strand with three friends. “We call it the parade. It comes right by our house. There’s excitement every weekend.”

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The construction will temporarily isolate his house from the action, but Brady said he doesn’t mind the sacrifice. “Once it’s finished and the rough spots are gone, people will be glad it was done,” he said.

The old, cracked concrete walkway will be dug up and replaced in most areas, and a new 32-inch-high Strand wall will be built along the entire 24-block stretch.

The Strand from 24th to 35th streets will not be repaired with the county funds because that stretch is not designated as a bicycle route. But Glickman recommended that in the future the city consider repairing that area with its own funds. Two of the three Strand lawsuits filed against the city since 1987 originated on that rough stretch.

In one suit, stemming from an accident on Aug. 5, 1987, Alan Marcus said he was riding briskly along The Strand at 30th Street when his bicycle tire got caught in a ridge in the pavement that was about three-quarters of an inch high. The 28-year-old Manhattan Beach car salesman flew over his handlebars onto the pavement, breaking his arm. He won an undisclosed settlement from the city this fall.

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Before the construction begins, the city will hold a series of public hearings--a lesson it learned the last time it tried to tamper with The Strand.

That came last April when the council proposed installing five wooden barricades on The Strand to slow cyclists. Residents vehemently opposed the idea, and the council backed off. Some residents even rushed from their homes to City Hall when they heard of the plan on the live cable television broadcast of the council meeting.

Safety on The Strand has been a longstanding topic of conversation in the city. The city launched a Strand Safety Committee five years ago and in 1987 installed yellow flashing lights and 10 m.p.h. speed limit signs to slow down bicycle riders. Last year, police officers began using special radar guns to slow down bikers.

Since 1988, there have been more than 100 calls to paramedics related to accidents on The Strand, according to police. Officers have issued more than 400 tickets for speeding and reckless cycling.

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Glickman, who is overseeing the project, will return to the council next month with various plans for public discussion and council approval. He said the new Strand could have coloring in the pavement or ocean designs imprinted on the wall, if the council so chooses.

After the council agrees on specific plans, the project will have to go out for construction bids. If all goes well, Glickman said, the project will be winding down just as the busy summer season takes off.

A Face Lift for The Strand

* This will be the first major reconstruction of The Strand since the 1950s when the current concrete was poured. The original Strand, built out of wood, dates from the turn of the century.

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* Hermosa Beach’s 1.8-mile stretch of Strand is part of a bikeway that extends from Redondo Beach north to Santa Monica.

* The cracked, concrete Strand will be torn up and replaced from Herondo Street north to 8th Street and from 15th to 24th streets. A new 32-inch Strand wall will be installed from Herondo Street to 24th Street.

* Some areas will not be repaired. The walkway from 8th to 15th streets was rebuilt in the mid-1980s and is not showing excessive signs of wear. The stretch from 24th to 35th streets is not considered a bike path and will not be covered under this project.

* Funding will come from the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission. The city has received $857,000 so far and is expected to receive another $224,000.

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