SOLANA BEACH — If all goes as planned, beachgoers will have access to the sea, surf and sand via the Del Mar Shores stairway in July, one month earlier than was originally planned.
Work began midway through February to replace the deteriorating structure, which was built in the 1970s and closed to the public in November 2012 after engineers concluded there was “a high probability” it could collapse at any time.
One year later City Council awarded a $1 million contract to Blue Pacific Engineering.
The ongoing construction demolition includes saw cutting the existing concrete stairway, then shoring it up so it can stand alone, a process City Engineer Mo Sammak described as “a relatively complicated bracing operation.”
The stairway is being cut into pieces and each section must be braced so it can essentially stand on its own.
“All the braces are tied together so they will not slide down the bluff,” Sammak said.
The first piece — and one of the largest, weighing in at approximately 8 tons — was removed Feb. 12.
“It was a pretty spectacular operation,” Sammak said.
Because the pieces must be removed by trucks on the beach and not by way of the fragile bluffs, Sammak said crews “have a very short window of operations” since they must wait for low tide to stage the equipment.
Tide and weather conditions permitting, the stairway removal is expected to be complete by Feb. 21, with the columns and landings set to be hauled away by Feb. 28.
Sammak said throughout the project the crane will be parked on the east side of South Sierra Avenue near the distillery lot because it is too expensive to move it daily.
Mayor Tom Campbell asked Sammak to provide a brief project update at every meeting.
Work is also scheduled for the Tide Park Beach stairs. Sammak said he should have an update on that project Feb. 26.
Original estimates to replace the stairway were between $1.5 million and $1.7 million.
Council authorized $1,173,737 for the project, which includes Blue Pacific’s $936,780 contract, a 15 percent contingency and a not-to-exceed $93,373 for consulting and architectural services for the stairs and lifeguard observation station.
Blue Pacific’s bid includes $54,780 to repair the handrail, concrete stairs, metal picket fencing and drainage swale at Tide Beach Park.
Project funding is coming from a variety of sources, including $275,000 from a beach recreation fee that is being held by the San Diego Association of Governments. The city has $200,000 from a public recreation fee charged to homeowners who build sea walls.
On Jan. 23 city officials learned they were awarded a $200,000 grant from the Coastal Conservancy.
The approximately $500,000 shortfall will come from general fund undesignated reserves.