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City project to close part of La Jolla’s Cave Street May 24-28

A city project will begin May 24 on Cave Street in La Jolla for work on a storm drain and concrete street panels.
A city project will begin Monday, May 24, on Cave Street in La Jolla for work on a storm drain and concrete street panels.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

A city of San Diego project will close Cave Street in La Jolla between Prospect Street and Coast Boulevard next week for work on a storm drain and concrete street panels.

The work will begin Monday, May 24, and is expected to be completed by Friday, May 28, but engineers have tentatively reserved the right to close the street over the weekend if needed. Construction is expected to take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each working day, possibly to 5 p.m. if necessary.

The project has been on the city’s books for years but was accelerated when, in August 2019, a sea cave at La Jolla Cove was found to be unstable and needed emergency repair. Over six weeks, crews injected a glue-like material into the weaker layer of rock to increase its density and help bind the fractures. Then they reinforced the top of the cave with concrete.

“When the emergency sea cave project happened, the primary objective, of course, was to address the concern with the sea cave,” civil engineer Luis Schaar said. “But as part of that project, there was also some work on an existing storm drain in that location that needed to be addressed. Prior to the emergency, we already had on the books the need to work on that storm drain at Coast Boulevard heading up to Cave Street. Because we put a temporary connection to the existing storm drain [during the sea cave stabilization], our project was accelerated to come in and complete that storm drain installation. That included a concrete panel replacement.”

The new street will provide an aesthetic improvement, he added. “Compared to the older, cracked look of the street … I think it will aesthetically be much better than what is there.”

Further, with concrete panels, the street is less likely to be worked on again in the near future.

“Concrete streets are meant to be permanent,” said city spokesman Scott Robinson. “They are not meant to be dug up. So [crews] want to make sure whatever is put there is the best possible for the long term.”

The Cave Street work is part of a larger scope, and there will be other street repair projects in the area, but none is expected to start imminently.

Schaar said the Cave Street project began in February and has proceeded in stages, with at least one lane of traffic open at all times. However, with the summer construction moratorium (from Memorial Day to Labor Day) looming and the remaining work being the most impactful, the street closure was deemed necessary.

“The tricky part is to minimize impacts to the community,” he said. “We have worked with business owners along the way because we know this is impactful.”

During design and before going into construction, Schaar’s team sent a notice to everyone affected within a 300-foot radius. “In addition to that … and because there are so many phases, there has been a lot of communication with the businesses here by the project team onsite,” he said.

Once work is complete, crews will walk the space to ensure the project was carried out as specified before the city takes ownership of it. The street will be restriped, which may happen during the summer construction moratorium because it can be done anytime and has low impact, Schaar said.

Unrelated construction is expected to proceed through the summer construction moratorium on the nearby Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility. The project includes unisex toilet stalls (and more toilets than the previous facility), showers, storage space and more. During construction, there are 10 portable toilets — two that are disabled-compliant — and no showers.

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches group voted in March to write a letter to the city supporting a waiver of the summer moratorium for the project, and the La Jolla Community Planning Association followed suit May 6. ◆