Motorists traveling along the coast on Vista del Mar from Manhattan Beach to Playa del Rey should plan to soon experience traffic delays as one of two northbound lanes will be closed due to the construction of a new pressurized sewer line.
The expected closure of a single lane for about 1,500 feet on the popular commuter thoroughfare is scheduled to begin Aug. 24 and will last until the summer of 2020. But there is a chance the construction start date might be delayed until after Labor Day, according to Tonya Durrell, public information officer for L.A. Sanitation & Environment.
“We have put in a request to the construction manager to start the work until after Labor Day given the feedback,” Durrell said Monday.
A meeting to discuss postponing the project will occur on Thursday, Aug. 15, according to Manhattan Beach acting public works director Shawn Igoe.
The foreseen traffic delays repeat similar lane closures in 2017 that outraged commuters and led to the attempted recall effort of L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin. Those lane closures were the result of a “road diet” plan to reduce pedestrian fatalities. The lanes were restored about two months later with Bonin apologizing.
The upcoming lane closure will accommodate work to build a new 54-inch diameter pressurized sewer line running from Venice to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey.
The work is necessary to inspect and eventually replace a 50-year-old sewer line, which poses significant risk if it were to rupture, according to engineers with the sanitation department. The project has been in the works for more than 20 years, and public hearings were held in 2015.
“We have done some inspection that let them know it’s deteriorated,” Durrell said. “We definitely need to get this second line in place in order to divert a major catastrophe. A sewer overflow would be catastrophic in that area.”
Durrell said the agency understood the sensitive nature of the lane closure given the response to the “road diet” two years ago. As a result, she said at the direction of the Los Angeles City Council, engineers reduced the amount of open trenching from 1,000 feet to 200 feet in order to avoid further impacts to the roadway.
“Our project did call for greater impacts to Vista del Mar and our city leaders had us go back to the drawing board on this project so that the least impacts to Vista del Mar would be made,” Durrell said.
To get the word out, Durrell said the agency shared notices on the social media website Nextdoor that reached more than 4,000 people. There was a notice on the agency’s website and representatives conducted door-to-door canvassing. They also placed in recent months illuminated message boards along the road announcing upcoming construction, Durrell said.
In addition, the agency notified officials at South Bay cities, however, those with at least one of the cities — Manhattan Beach — said the email messages were not received and the first they heard about the project was on Friday, Aug 9.
Manhattan Beach Councilmember Richard Montgomery is upset with the City of Los Angeles about the perceived late notice.
“They are telling us now?” Montgomery said. “All of a sudden, we have to get the word out to our residents.”
Montgomery said he supports delaying the start of the project until after Labor Day, which is Sept, 2.
“Why don’t we wait a week and let things calm down? Give us more time to notify our people so we don’t have a repeat of the road diet fiasco,” Montgomery said. “We don’t want a repeat of what happened last time with the road diets that angered the whole South Bay.”
What you need to know:
- Three lanes of traffic on Vista del Mar will remain open at all times.
- Traffic on Vista del Mar between Waterview and Napoleon Streets will be moved to the east side
- Northbound traffic will become one lane at Waterview Street for 1,500 feet, from south of Napoleon Street toSurf Street
- Southbound traffic will remain two lanes on Vista del Mar
- No parking on both sides of Vista del Mar near the traffic control area
Facts about the Venice Duel Force Main Sewer Project:
- The current force main carries more than 30 million gallons of wastewater each day to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.
- The current pipe is 48 inches in diameter, built in 1960, and runs roughly two miles from Venice to the water recycling facility.
- The new pipe will be 54 inches in diameter. It will be used as the existing line is inspected and will eventually serve as a backup and possibly a replacement.
- During severe wet weather, peak flows to the Venice Pumping Plant have exceeded the capacity of the current force main pipeline. Without additional capacity there is a risk of a sewage overflow.
For more information visit LACitySan.org and search for Venice Dual Force Main.