San Luis Rey River dredging postponed, possibly for 2 years

OCEANSIDE — The city will soon be taking down detour signs and reopening the San Luis Rey River Trail, which were temporarily closed to allow anticipated river dredging.

Dredging operations overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers have been called off.

The Corps did not reply to The Coast News’ questions on the decision to halt the project that would reduce the flood risk posed by the river.

Kiel Koger, city public works director, shared an update on the project cancellation.

“The Corps had concerns with a proposed equipment staging area, the method of construction and ability of the contractor to achieve the required production and proposed access through environmentally sensitive areas,” Koger said.

Koger said the city is disappointed the project is not moving forward.

Oceanside sent a letter to the Corps on Oct. 25 asking for a  $1.8 million reimbursement for its share of project costs, until the project is ready to start, and $29,800 for construction of a bike detour to accommodate the project.

“We are very frustrated with the Corps’ inability to get the project started and completed despite working on it for over two years,” Koger said. “We have expressed our frustration repeatedly in weekly conference calls.”

Dredging was initially scheduled to begin in September 2016, but was delayed to allow time for the Corps to secure a permit from the California Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region. Once the permit was obtained dredging was reset to begin this September.

Then issues arose with Steelhead Construction, the low-bid contractor awarded the project. Weeks of talks between the Corps and contractor concluded in project cancellation.

The future of the needed dredging is uncertain.

“The Corps hasn’t made any guarantees as when the project will be started,” Koger said.

The city was informed by the Corps that the project will likely be postponed until fall 2019, when the Corps Section 902 Cost Limit Policy funding limit is increased.

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