“Everyone involved is doing their absolute best to complete the project, making every effort to finish up as quickly as possible,” said Department of Public Works spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz. “But as you know, we can never assume that everything will go smoothly and without a hitch.”
The projects are designed to improve stormwater, sewer and water services by creating more reliable systems and replacing undersize storm drains, which have contributed to frequent flooding and resultant pollution to the adjacent Shores beach and its state-designated Area of Special Biological Significance. They involve installing new sewer and water mains within portions of the public rights-of-way of Avenida de la Playa, Paseo del Ocaso, E1 Paseo Grande, Vallecitos, Calle Frescota, Camino del Sol, Camino del Oro, Paseo Dorado and Avenida de la Ribera.
In a prepared statement, the city said both projects — which have been combined into one and are being done concurrently to save time and cost — is “not on schedule due to delays caused by utilities conflict/relocation, the SDG&E under grounding of power lines and the redesign of box culverts to provide proper street drainage.”
The city said unforeseen construction delays occurred in late February because of a quality-control issue with material from a supplier and in early March, when there were several days of rain.
“The schedule, as often happens with construction, currently is in flux. The recovery schedule may be provided in the next two weeks or so. Due to these delays, an acceleration change has been submitted to the city engineering department for approval,” according to the city’s statement.
“Everyone is tolerating it (construction) knowing it’s for improvement and has to happen,” said Izzy Tihanyi, of Surf Diva on Avenida de la Playa. He added some work changes have been disconcerting.
“We were told they weren’t going to cut up the avenue and now they are, so we’re (merchants) a little confused,” she said.
Tihanyi said the community and city have been collaborating for thepast couple years to pave the way for project construction, noting the city’s original plan “was to cut up the street for eight months,” after which, she said, “not a single business would have been left in La Jolla Shores.”
Tihanyi stressed that the Memorial Day completion date is a hard target.
“Work has to be done. There’s no leeway. They must be finished,” she said.
The summer season is by far the busiest for most Shores businesses, like kayak operators, who do the lion’s share of their trade between Memorial and Labor days.
And there are a surprising number of Shores’ businesses.
“There are a lot more than you think, more than 120 counting offices,” said Tihanyi, who is a member of the Shores micro-Business Improvement District.
In a community letter, Tim Lucas, chairman of the La Jolla Shores Association community advisory group, answered concerns about the large crane being used at the intersection of Camino del Oro and Avenida de la Playa.
“This was brought in to facilitate the removal and resetting of the 39 sections of culvert that had previously been installed,” he said. “After the initial installation, it was found that there were potentially serious drainage issues in the event of a really large storm that could affect the adjacent hotel, nearby residents and the Shores business district.”
Lucas said city engineers “made a tough — but the right — decision for our community in opting to redo the installation.”
The good news, said Lucas, is contractors “were able to remove, adjust the trench level and reinstall the culvert in record time using the crane and a lot of focused effort.”
The bad news, Lucas said, is that “there are a lot of steps that still need to be completed, and in order to finish the project in time for the summer moratorium they will continue to work longer hours, until 7 p.m. and also on Saturdays.”
The city said everyone is keeping their fingers crossed as infrastructure work continues along Avenida de la Playa.
“The unexpected is to be expected with a construction project,” said Muñoz, adding parking problems in the area relating to ongoing construction have been largely resolved.
“HPS Mechanical, the city's contractor, worked with the manager of a property on Avenida de la Playa and the owner of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club to secure parking spaces at LJBTC through May 23 for the five residences of Avenida De La Playa who are currently without the use of their garages,” she said.