La Jolla Shores construction to resume after summer

In what is becoming an (unfortunate) annual tradition, when the summer construction moratorium ends after Labor Day, La Jolla Shores will be subject to heavy construction. Starting after Labor Day (Sept. 5), with another break planned during the winter holidays, work will continue throughout the Shores to repair the infrastructure under the street and fix the mistakes that have set the work behind schedule for more than a year. But city engineers hope this time will be the last, and the infrastructure repair project will be complete by Memorial Day, 2017.

Along and connecting to Avenida de la Playa, the Shores’ main thoroughfare, work has been underway to replace the underground sewer and water lines since December 2013 (with pauses in construction in summer and winter 2014, 2015 and 2016). Along with it, a large box culvert and an outfall structure on the western end of Avenida de la Playa, and bio-filter box fronting Piatti restaurant were also replaced.

But a number of problems put the work behind schedule, with some aspects needing to be redone completely, and city engineers have spent the summer moratorium reconfiguring plans to ensure the rest of construction goes smoothly.

“We hired a new engineering firm to determine which repairs are going to be needed to get the system back operating,” said engineer Steve Lindsay. “They examined the damage and have preliminarily come up with new plans.” Formal plans and a timeline are expected in about a month.

With the sewer and water line replacement all but complete, Lindsay said engineers will likely start by wrapping up the last stages of pipe-work and repaving the street. “We are starting at Vallecitos and Camino Del Oro to finish paving, so the kayak (concessionaires) still have access to the beach when we have to shut down the western end of Avenida de la Playa at the boat launch,” he said. “At the same time, we’re going to remove the bio-filter box at El Paseo Grande (at Avenida de la Playa) so it can be replaced.”

Once complete, likely in October, the westernmost end of Avenida de la Playa will be closed off for an unknown amount of time so a large box culvert can be replaced, and the outfall structure damaged by the January storm surge can be repaired.

The nearly 15-foot box culvert — a large cement square-shaped structure that allows water to flow under a road, which are embedded and surrounded by soil — was installed in April 2014 but was not sized correctly, and will need to be replaced. “Rather than use a pre-fabricated culvert, the new one is going to be cast-in-place to maintain its integrity,” Lindsay said. There will also be hydraulic improvements to better handle water pressure build up in the future.

Next, the outfall structure that collapsed in January, causing a sinkhole to open up, will also be repaired and reinforced. “We have made modifications to make maintenance and access easier … so it will function a bit better,” he said.

Hoping to be complete by Memorial Day 2017, “at the absolute latest” said Lindsay, a formal timeline is forthcoming.

Bracing for another nine months of construction, La Jolla Shores Business Association member Angie Presidendorfer said she was “bummed” to hear it would take so long.

“Crews are already starting to close-off parking and cut into the street, which is hard for us because we have been having the best summer,” she said, because the weather has been beautiful and businesses have been packed. “This construction is really hard on businesses, which slows down anyway after the summer, and we were told construction would only be a few months. So hopefully the locals continue to come here during all this.”

Although thankful for all the continued support to her restaurant, Barbarella owner Barbara Beltaire said she is also frustrated with the construction duration. “We have been going through hell for three years with this … enough is enough,” she said. “Crews take up all the parking and don’t care about the state of things. I don’t think the city is being accountable for the mistakes they have made that has caused this project to take so long and for the loss of business to this area.”

Attempting to take some accountability, Lindsay said once everything is complete, the city will investigate which department or engineering firm is at fault for the delays.

The construction will likely be discussed at the next La Jolla Shores Association meeting, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 8840 Biological Grade. ljsa.org

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