SOLANA BEACH — Beachgoers will see more construction activity than usual along the Solana Beach shoreline over the next three months as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commences a massive beach restoration effort to combat storm damage and sand depletion.
The massive undertaking is part of the long-awaited USACE Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, a partnership between federal and local governments bringing just over one million cubic yards of sand to the Solana Beach and Encinitas shorelines by constructing protective berms.
Work in Solana Beach will add around 700,000 cubic yards from Tide Beach Park to the city’s southern limits. Dredging and sand placement is expected to begin in January, following the completion of another dredging project in San Clemente, and last about 60 days until mid-March.
On Dec. 11, the Corps installed a pipeline at Fletcher Cove that will dredge sand from the ocean floor. The pipe was brought in on floating pontoons, then allowed to sink while the end was dragged onto the shore, City Manager Greg Wade said last week.
“I know it’s been a long time coming, but it’s pretty exciting,” said Susie Ming, project manager with the Corps’ Los Angeles office.
Sediment for the project will be taken offshore of the San Dieguito River mouth, brought to the pipeline via a dredge, and pumped as a slurry mix of seawater and sand. The additional material will expand the width of the beach by around 150 feet, creating more room for visitors during high and low tides and providing additional protection for the bluffs.
“It’s very exciting to see us coming this far,” said Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner. “It’s hard to almost imagine that it’s going to be double the sand, maybe even triple.”
Following the completion of work in Solana Beach, crews will start the next phase in Encinitas, adding around 340,000 cubic yards of sand from north of Swami’s Beach to south of Beacon’s Beach.
The 50-year project will also provide scheduled renourishment of sand in both cities every 10 years.
Once dredging begins in Solana Beach, residents and visitors can expect to see various portions of the beach closed to the public. The pipe itself also features a warning sign advising people to stay off.
According to Ming and Wade, the reason for completing this project in the winter is twofold. The dredging largely avoids the nesting season of local shore birds, and there are fewer crowds on the beach at this time of year.
“One of the priorities is to keep folks safe, and not having as many people on the beach is certainly helpful because we will be closing off portions of the beach as we work,” Ming said. “We won’t have people walking between the areas where we’re actively placing sediment.”
The long-awaited USACE Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project has been in the works since 2000 and is funded by $30 million in federal funds secured by Rep. Mike Levin (D-Dana Point).
The San Clemente project will expand the beach by about 50 feet and provide temporary protection to the LOSSAN (Los Angeles- San Luis Obispo-San Diego) corridor running through the city.
Officials aren’t sure exactly when dredging work will be completed in San Clemente, but Ming said crews will likely begin staging in Solana Beach in the second week of January.
Residents can find more information about the shoreline project online at cityofsolanabeach.org/beachsand.