Army Corps plans to take a long, hard look at future dredging company hires

Army Corps plans to take a long, hard look at future dredging company hires
Oceanside beachgoers enjoy a game of catch while dredging and sand replenishment operations continue through October. Dredging is expected to be completed this month. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — This year’s operations to remove 260,000 cubic yards of sand from the harbor channel and place it on Oceanside beaches began in June and it’s still not completed.

After close to four months of dredging, 218,690 cubic yards of sand has been removed from the channel. The remainder of sand is expected to be dredged this month.

Project delays due to CJW Construction company’s small equipment forced work to stop on dozens of days for adverse weather conditions and equipment repair and replacement.

Oceanside officials said the company’s lack of capability to do the job has been frustrating.

Operations extended over the peak summer tourist season and had negative financial impacts, and caused extra safety concerns with larger crowds and planned events at the harbor and beaches.

“They don’t have the ability to perform what we need,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “You can’t tie up the beach with dredging the entire summer for our money making period for tourists.”

Councilman Jerry Kern deemed it “the lost summer of sand.”

“It’s unfortunate they were just in over their head, the equipment just wasn’t big enough to handle it,” Kern said.

Over the summer the city has sent letters of concern to Army Corps, and held weekly update meetings with key stakeholders including Army Corps, CJW Construction, Congressman Darrell Issa and city officials, to ensure the project is moving along.

Wood said at one point he went out in a harbor patrol boat equipped with a depth finder, which measured 7 feet of clearance in the harbor.

“We accept the fact that they are listening, but we’re still stuck with the persons who are doing the dredging,” Wood said. “They are not fulfilling their obligations, but more importantly we found out that the harbor entrance is (has been) unsafe.”

Looking ahead to next year’s dredging the city wants to ensure the mis-hire is not repeated.

The Army Corps, which oversees annual $5 million dredging operations, will conduct a post work evaluation on CJW Construction’s performance, and reset requirements for next year’s contract.

The work assessment will look at how much sand was removed, job safety, environmental impacts and timeliness of work.

A Memorial Day finish date and robust equipment will likely be part of future contract requirements.

Greg Fuderer, Army Corps senior public affairs specialist, said the evaluation will help determine whether a different company will be hired next year. Army Corps is not under obligation to grant CJW Construction an optional two-year contract extension.

Fuderer said Army Corps shares the city’s frustration on project delays and will continue to work with CJW Construction to make sure the job is completed. Dredging operations will continue 24/7, expect for necessary work shutdown days.

Work should be completed by Oct. 29, and followed by demobilizing equipment.

“We know we’re behind schedule, and we know there are impacts,” Fuderer said.

A revised contract is expected to be written by early 2017, and a hiring decision for next year’s dredging made by March.

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