SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to award a $526,900 contract to RSB Group, Inc., a California-based company, for the construction services of the Santa Monica Pier South Stairs Upgrade Project at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The project would construct new wooden stairs west of the existing south side pier stairway, and reconstruct and widen the existing stairway to increase the emergency exiting capacity of the Pier.

“As our Pier becomes more successful and draws bigger crowds, it’s crucial we provide adequate emergency exits, but the new stairs closer to the ocean will also mean more convenient access for beach-goers,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown. “When the project’s finished, a walk along the surf line can more conveniently include a visit to the pier deck and all the attractions of the Santa Monica Pier.”

Fire and police department officials had expressed concerns about the constrained and narrow nature of the stairway. The current stairway serves as the only emergency exit at the south side of the pier. The upgrade would increase the emergency exit capacity at the south side of the Pier fourfold.

Construction is not expected to begin until mid-September due to the summer concerts on the Pier. The anticipated date of completion is January 2016. One stairway will be available for public use at all times.

Funding for the renovations will come from the city’s Capital Improvement Program budget.

RSB Group, Inc.’s previous work includes the second floor addition to the pier harbor master office in Avalon and the reconstruction of the main beach boardwalk in Laguna Beach.