SOLANA BEACH — Work to repair the aging Seascape Sur beach access stairway will begin this fall after council members at the July 12 meeting approved an approximately $200,000 contract with Conan Construction Inc.
The structure at the south end of the city will be closed during the estimated four-month construction period, slated to begin in October or November.
The stairway, built in 1995, includes five piers on the bluff, three piers in the sand below and several flights of stairs leading to the beach.
Through the years routine maintenance has been performed. In 2008 the beach piers were encased with an interlocking system to strengthen them against surface wear from the abrasive impacts of sand, cobble and water, especially during winter storms and high tides.
But the harsh marine environment has rusted the metal hangers and fasteners that support the treated lumber steps, which also need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear.
Last year it was determined the stairway is safe for public use, but maintenance was needed to ensure the deterioration didn’t reach a point where the structure would require an emergency closure for repairs.
Noble Construction, the original design consultant that prepared plans detailing how the stairway would be built and repaired, was hired in April 2016 to create design plans for the renovation.
Construction bids were advertised this past May. Six proposals ranging from $202,690, from Conan, to $326,325 were submitted.
Conan built the veterans courtyard at La Colonia Park, as well as other projects in the city.
The work will include removing and replacing the existing concrete walkway from Sierra Avenue to the top landing of the stairs because tree roots have caused severe damage.
Work is expected to take about four months because the California Coastal Commission permit waiver prohibits construction on weekends and holidays or between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The contract includes a larger-than-normal contingency of $40,000 — approximately 20 percent — because of uncertainty about how hard it will be to remove the fittings.
“The current metal hardware pieces on the stairs are frozen and rusted to a point that it is difficult to estimate what it might take to unbolt the sections with no or minimal damage to the rest of the structure,” Mo Sammak, the city engineer, said.
The city budgeted $300,000 for the project from the transient occupancy tax sand replacement fund. Any leftover money will be returned to that fund and reallocated for future projects.
When the design contract was awarded last year, then-Councilman Mike Nichols suggested replacing the stairs with concrete rather than wood because he said pressure-treated lumber is not good for bare feet.
There are a lot of toxins in there, he said, adding that concrete would also decrease the risk of splinters and last longer.
Sammak said after looking into that recommendation, he learned concrete threads are not a viable option because they are heavier and would compromise the structural integrity of the stairway and the foundation.
Additionally, the beams supporting the stairs, called stringers, would all have to be replaced with a different material, which would make the entire structure heavier.
“This option would make the project much more complicated from a scheduling and budgeting point of view,” he added.