Work is set to begin early next year on the next stage of a massive storm drain project that is expected to increase traffic congestion in parts of the Fairfax District through 1987.
Some side streets will be closed for weeks at a time, but at least two lanes of traffic will be kept free on major thoroughfares, county engineers said.
The project, one of the largest planned by the county Public Works Department for 1986, also calls for the widening of 3rd Street from Stanley to Laurel avenues once the storm drain is in place.
3rd Street will be expanded from 56 to 63 feet in width and its uneven pavement will be entirely resurfaced.
The project is part of a long-range renovation of the underground system that drains rainwater from much of the Westside.
Work completed in previous years included the excavation of Pan Pacific Park, which was designed as a flood-control basin and landscaped as a park. Last year, the county installed a concrete conduit under a stretch of Beverly Boulevard and adjoining streets.
The 3rd Street project will permit the installation of another conduit to move storm waters seaward.
Secondary lines will be laid along Stanley and Rosewood avenues, and another leg will extend up Orange Grove Avenue, across the southwest corner of Fairfax High School and up Fairfax Avenue to Melrose Avenue.
Once that is done, new work contracts will be signed to push the expanded storm drain north beyond Hollywood Boulevard. The entire project is slated for completion by the end of 1988, according to Gary Hartley, a county civil engineer.
In a change adopted after a concentration of methane gas led to an explosion and fire at a nearby store, the conduit will incorporate a venting system so that any gases that build up underground will be allowed to dissipate, Hartley said.
Bids will be opened Dec. 6 for the 3rd Street project, including the portions along Stanley, Rosewood, Orange Grove and Fairfax avenues. The winning contractor will be announced at the end of the month. Work is expected to begin in mid-February, with completion scheduled for about 15 months later.
"This system will reduce flooding along its entire length, relieve existing storm drains, provide outlet facilities for future storm drains and ensure minimum disruption to the public by providing for street and sewer work to be completed alongside the storm drains," said Supervisor Ed Edelman, who represents the area.
The city and county governments have coordinated their efforts to allow for street and sewer improvements on 3rd Street.
The contract also calls for a $3,000-a-day bonus for every day the contractor finishes before deadline, and $3,000 a day in penalties for every day the project is late.
A similar provision yielded contractor Steve Bubalo a $500,000-bonus for finishing the Beverly Boulevard project six months ahead of schedule last year.
"Everyone was so happy to have him off the street that nobody minded," said Aliza Katz, chief deputy to City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.
The project includes a provision that no work will be done on 3rd Street during next year's holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Years.
Still, owners of businesses in the area said they were concerned that congestion will frighten customers away and that already-scarce parking will be even more limited.
"Of course it would affect our business," said Barbara Gadson, manager of Hats on Third, a milliner's shop near the corner of 3rd Street and Laurel. "If the street is torn up then they (customers) will take alternate routes, and we have a parking problem as it is."
Hank Hilty, vice president of the A. F. Gilmore Co., which operates Farmers Market, said, "It's going to be disruptive, no doubt about it, but I think that the county has tried to do their best to provide access and good traffic circulation."
His firm has deeded a strip of property along 3rd Street to allow construction work to be done on the northern edge of the street rather than down the middle, which would have disrupted traffic even more, Hilty said.
Edelman said the county will provide parking nearby for people who live on residential streets that will be excavated for the project.
A tram will carry residents between the parking site and their homes, and security officers will be assigned to the area during the construction period, he said.