DEL MAR — Although the long-awaited Streetscape project is well underway, it has not been without its fair share of obstacles.
After withstanding an especially rainy winter and failed storm drain pipes, the city is expanding its construction schedule to include some evenings and Saturdays.
Mohsen Maali, the city’s deputy public works director, said the new schedule will help the city recover time lost due to unforeseen site conditions. He anticipates the project’s final touches will still be completed on schedule — in July, in time for race season.
At an April 15 City Council meeting, City Manager Scott Huth initially anticipated the project’s completion would possibly be delayed to the end of summer.
“We are behind schedule,” he said.
The $7.2 million project aims to beautify the city’s downtown stretch from 9th Street to the Del Mar Plaza, bringing in new sidewalks, paving, bike lanes, landscaping, street lighting and furnishing. The project is largely funded by Measure Q — a voter-approved 1% sales tax hike.
At the April meeting, council approved the allocation of an additional $424,000 — out of the city’s AB 939 fund and Measure Q monies — to expand Spurlock Landscape Architect’s work effort and fund the replacement of damaged and corroded pipes found at 10th and 11th streets.
The damaged pipes weren’t the only thing the city uncovered during the course of construction — Huth said that wet material underneath the sidewalks required staff to bring in new materials, and the discovery of unmapped utilities required design changes.
The city has also been working with local businesses to lessen the impact of the construction — and some have been taking a hit.
Mary Arabatzis, the co-owner of Camino Del Mar restaurant Beeside Balcony, presented at a March City Council meeting with concerns about how the inclement weather and construction were negatively affecting sales.
“The clouds have parted, and the construction has started,” Arabatzis said, calling the noise pollution and dust “horrible for customers.”
She also said customers were having a hard time finding parking due to construction-related street closures.
The city has been working with the Business Support Advisory Committee and the Del Mar Village Association to respond to requests, “scheduling noisy and dusty work during the least-disruptive times,” Maali said.
Councilman Dwight Worden, a liaison to the Business Support Advisory Committee, compared the current negative impacts on local businesses to the pain of getting a shot at the doctor’s office.
“The upside of that is, it’s temporary,” he said.
For now, the city has been hanging “business open” and “pardon our dust” signs and banners around town, to lessen the blow.
“We understand that heavy construction is not good for business, but we are confident that a finished project will greatly beautify downtown Del Mar and turn it into an even greater destination,” Maali said in an email to The Coast News. “That will pay great dividends to our business community for decades to come.”