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As California Beaches Reopen, Seawall Construction Becomes Legislative Battleground

California’s beaches may feel off-limits right now, but the coronavirus has not stopped the sea from rising. With every tide and storm, this slow-moving disaster continues to creep closer to shore — toppling bluffs, eroding our beaches and threatening homes and major infrastructure.

Work is now underway on the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project. Construction is expected to last about one year. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District Water and traffic

Olivenhain MWD, City of Encinitas Work Together to Keep Water and Traffic Flowing

The City of Encinitas and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District are working together on a project that keeps water supply and traffic flowing.

To prevent water main breaks and ensure reliable service to its customers, Olivenhain Municipal Water District is proactive in its repair and replacement of aging water infrastructure.

Year-long construction project underway

Map of the 4,700 foot long stretch of improvements planned along North El Camino Real. Map: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Map shows the 4,700 foot long stretch of improvements planned along North El Camino Real. Graphic: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

In early April, OMWD began construction to replace aging water infrastructure along El Camino Real in Encinitas. The work marks the start of the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project. Construction is expected to last about one year.

During the project, OMWD will replace approximately 4,700 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter potable water pipeline along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Garden View Road and approximately 650 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter pipeline between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive. Water service lines and fire hydrant laterals served by the existing pipelines will also be replaced.

The two pipelines being replaced were originally installed in 1961 and 1974, and are approaching the end of their lifespan.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that there more than 240,000 water main breaks in the United States every year. The main breaks waste over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water, but also interrupt water service to homes and businesses, and require costly and disruptive emergency repairs.

After OMWD’s pipeline work is complete, the City of Encinitas will implement traffic calming measures and improve safety and mobility for bicyclists along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard by restriping and narrowing travel lanes.

The work will include adding bollards to existing bike lanes, applying green color to some areas on the bike lanes, and additional signage and pavement markings will also be installed.

OMWD will implement the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas, which will take place concurrently with the pipeline replacement project.

Coordination minimizes impact on residents and businesses

The two agencies have combined efforts to maximize operational efficiencies and to reduce impacts to area residents and businesses.

Originally, OMWD’s project was scheduled to begin in 2021. Encinitas Council Member Joe Mosca and OMWD Board Treasurer Larry Watt identified the opportunity to streamline the two projects, maximizing efficiencies and minimizing impacts to the community. Because the City’s project had a deadline for grant funding, the two agencies ultimately decided it would be more efficient to advance the timeline of OMWD’s project.

“El Camino Real is a major thoroughfare and any work done there needs to be executed with maximum care and efficiency in mind to keep impacts to businesses and residents low,” said Larry Watt, OMWD board treasurer. “By coordinating the pipeline replacement project with the City’s project, the community can enjoy a continued safe and reliable water supply and improved road safety with the least disturbance possible.”

Environmental responsibility and safety

“The City of Encinitas is continuing its track record of environmental responsibility by making our streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians through the Active Transportation Enhancing Project,” said Encinitas Councilmember Joe Mosca. “The City’s partnership with OMWD on this project highlights the benefits of collaboration between neighboring public agencies on critical infrastructure projects.”

Coronavirus pandemic helps minimize impact on traffic management

Instead of conducting two projects along the same stretch of road consecutively, the City of Encinitas and Olivenhain Municipal Water District are coordinating their work to minimize disruption to the community. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Instead of conducting two projects along the same stretch of road consecutively, the City of Encinitas and Olivenhain Municipal Water District are coordinating their work to minimize disruption to the community. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

In addition to the partnership, OMWD has taken steps to minimize the impact of the project on residents and businesses along North El Camino Real. A City-approved traffic management plan will be implemented during construction. All work was originally scheduled to be completed at night to minimize traffic impacts.

As a result of the reduced traffic from the statewide stay-at-home order, the agencies adapted hours in April to 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The change allows work to be completed more efficiently and safely.

Olivenhain will work closely with the City to monitor the project’s impact on traffic on a week-by-week basis and modify the schedule as needed along with project contractor Teichert Energy and Utilities Group while still maintaining efficient operations.

OMWD anticipates a single shutdown of water service for most businesses/residences, kept as short as possible. Project updates are posted on its website. Email questions to or call 760-632-4235.

For questions specific to the City of Encinitas Active Transportation Enhancing Project, email or call 760-943-2211.

Construction Begins on Essential Water Project in Mission Trails Regional Park

The San Diego County Water Authority is making progress on the construction of a new 5 million gallon underground reservoir in Mission Trails Regional Park. The underground reservoir is also known as a flow regulatory structure.

Classified as a “critical or essential” infrastructure project during the COVID-19 response, the project is moving forward to stay on schedule.

Construction Begins on Essential Water Project in Mission Trails Regional Park

The San Diego County Water Authority is making progress on the construction of a new 5 million gallon underground reservoir in Mission Trails Regional Park. The underground reservoir is also known as a flow regulatory structure.

Classified as a “critical or essential” infrastructure project during the COVID-19 response, the project is moving forward to stay on schedule. Water Authority and contractor staff are taking heath protection precautions to maintain public safety by following COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing face masks, using hand sanitizers, and disinfecting fencing, work tools and equipment.

Construction preparation underway for water project

Recent work includes the installation of temporary office trailers at the east end of Clairemont Mesa Drive in the City of San Diego, delivery of materials, installation of eight-foot fencing around the major construction sites and placement of silt fencing around environmentally sensitive areas.

Topsoil is being removed and saved where digging is planned. This topsoil will be placed back in its original location after construction is done to encourage plant re-growth, help hold water and prevent soil erosion. Construction crews are working Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Trail closures to ensure safety of public and essential workers

Some trails in the western portion of the park are closed to ensure the safety of the public and essential workers on site. Several trail closure signs with maps have been strategically placed to help park users navigate the trails and take detours to avoid the construction area.

The project is in the western part of Mission Trails Regional Park near the Tierrasanta community. It includes building the new underground covered reservoir, a flow control facility and pipeline interconnections to upgrade the system that delivers water to treatment plants serving the central and southern areas of San Diego County. The project is anticipated to be complete in early 2022.

Opinion: Essential or Not, All Construction Requires Enhanced Safety Protocols

Across the United States, communities are working diligently to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. From healthcare to food distribution and other essential services, all industries are assessing ways to keep their workforce healthy and safe while meeting the needs of our nation during this time of crisis.

Construction Finishes on $650 Million Water Pumping Station at Lake Mead

The Southern Nevada Water Authority, along with contractor Barnard of Nevada, Inc., announced the completion of the Low Lake Level Pumping Station after nearly five years of construction.

Construction Can Continue in New York, California and Illinois Amid Shutdown Orders. In Other Regions, It’s Banned

To help battle the coronavirus outbreak, governors of several states have shut down all but essential services in recent days. This has left building departments, state building associations and elected officials inundated with questions from contractors in affected areas. Heads of AEC firms of all sizes and functions, including subcontractors and architects, are looking for guidance on whether their work can proceed.

Coronado Represented On the San Diego Chamber’s Mission to DC 2019

It was an honor to join over 160 business and political leaders from the San Diego Region for the 2019 Mission to DC. Sponsored by the San Diego Chamber, I was able to attend meetings with the EPA, State Department and several congress members as well as network with area leaders.

Report: 50% Of US Construction Activity Concentrated In 10 States

If it seems that certain areas of the United States are benefiting more than others from the country’s current construction boom, it’s because they are, according to a new report from research firm GlobalData.

In fact, of the more than 11,200 U.S. projects the company is tracking — public and private, in development and under construction — 10 states have captured about 60% of the $3.7 trillion those projects represent.

A $28.6 million project to rehabilitate more than four miles of large-diameter pipeline between Lake Murray and Sweetwater Reservoir was completed in June 2018. Photo: Water Authority

Water Authority Adapts to Overheated U.S. Construction Costs

Construction costs have surged across the nation over the past year as prices for materials used in construction have risen. At the same time, contractors are struggling to meet project deadlines due to a shortage of skilled workers, construction trade industry publication Constructive Dive reported on March 18.

Those higher construction costs are impacting local agencies, including the San Diego County Water Authority. Agency staff briefed the Board of Directors’ Engineering and Operations Committee in mid-March on how those market changes are driving up costs of infrastructure and maintenance projects.

“The Water Authority will monitor market trends and adjust individual project budgets as required,” said Gary Bousquet, the Water Authority’s deputy director of engineering. “Our planning process includes prioritizing projects, and evaluating the timing or need and scope of projects. We will adjust our project cost estimates to meet changing market conditions.”

Labor shortage adds to increasing costs

A labor shortage in the construction industry is one of several factors increasing costs.

“While construction hiring remained very widespread through January [2019], industry employment gains nationally slowed in February—possibly an indication that the pool of qualified workers has dried up in many markets,” Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, said in a new report.

The report showed that construction employment declined by 1,300 jobs in the San Diego region from January 2018 to January 2019.

“There are many large-scale construction projects underway in Southern California, while at the same time, there is a shortage of skilled and unskilled labor, which means greater competition for those workers,” said Brent Fountain, a principal engineer with the Water Authority. “In addition, increasing prices for materials are impacting the costs for both maintenance and capital projects.”

Water Authority project bids from contractors in 2018 ranged from $200,000 to $6 million over the project costs estimated by the Water Authority, according to Fountain.

Contractors bid above estimates in 2018

: In 2018, the Water Authority received 2-to-5 bids for projects, and the bids were all well-above agency estimates. Graphic: Water Authority

In 2018, the Water Authority received 2-to-5 bids for projects, and the bids were all well-above agency estimates. Graphic: Water Authority

“We’ve received fewer bids at higher bid amounts from contractors for several projects in the past eight months,” he said. “The Water Authority generally had more bids and bid amounts closer to our project cost estimates, from 2014 through 2017.”

In previous years, bid amounts were typically closer to project cost estimates and sometimes the bids came in well below the estimates.

Contractors bid below estimates in prior years

From October 2014 through June 2017, the Water Authority received 3-to-7 bids for projects, and the bids were all below agency estimates. Graphic: Water Authority

From October 2014 through June 2017, the Water Authority received 3-to-7 bids for projects, and the bids were all below agency estimates. Graphic: Water Authority

Bousquet said the agency will monitor construction industry cost trends as it continues pioneering projects to serve the region.

“The Water Authority has made an array of innovative infrastructure investments over the past 25 years, including some of the largest projects in the history of the agency, to sustain the $231 billion regional economy,” said Bousquet. “We will continue to develop cost-effective projects to provide a safe and reliable wholesale water supply to San Diego residents.”