Santa Monica says it’s digging as fast as it can

Drilling of new sewer lines under Pacific Coast Highway will continue 20 to 24 hours a day, with a completion date of Memorial Day 2000, an officer of Santa Monica’s Disaster Recovery Group told Malibu officials last Thursday. He pledged two lanes in each direction would be kept open throughout the construction. The pipes run from near Entrada at the Santa Monica city line to the pier.

Appearing at the City Council’s Nov. 18 meeting, Schroeder reported Santa Monica’s sewer lines sustained cracks in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but that even without the quake damage, the pipelines were too small to handle the current volume of sewage wastewater. “We’re walking a tightrope,” he said, urging Santa Monica is trying to balance the needs of commuters and residents.

The 50-year-old clay sewer line will be bypassed by the drilling of a new 54-inch sewer through new techniques known as “micro-tunneling,” Schroeder reported. The new pipeline, with its greater capacity, will catch dry-weather urban runoff, which can then be treated before entry to Santa Monica Bay.

Some $14.5 million of the project will be paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The new pipelines will be adequate to meet the needs of Santa Monica and Los Angeles for another century, he said.

Schroeder explained the construction will use four jacking pits along the highway, rather than an open trench. Although most of the pipeline alignment is to the beach side of the highway, the construction will reduce the lanes to two in each direction. He noted signs had been posted as far as Oxnard and along feeder routes to PCH in Malibu, urging commuters to take alternate routes.

He added the city is attempting to locate an additional micro-tunneling machine to allow the digging to proceed simultaneously at several sites. There appeared to be no significant restriction to traffic flow in the first week, he said.

Councilman Harry Barovsky recommended a tow truck be kept at PCH round-the-clock and a Caltrans representative be at the Santa Monica government center. Schroeder replied the city had three tow operators under contract.

Councilman Tom Hasse asked whether Santa Monica engineers had considered reversible lanes — three lanes southbound at the morning rush and three lanes northbound in the afternoon. Schroeder said Caltrans rejected the option out of concern that an emergency could totally block one lane. . . .

Committee members named

The City Council filled three seats on its new architects/engineers zoning ordinance review committee.

Mayor Carolyn Van Horn and Councilman Walter Keller sought more time to review the candidates, which left the five-member panel at a membership of three.

After a brief discussion, council members Harry Barovsky, Tom Hasse and Joan House voted to allow the three to begin deliberating on a proposed hillside development zone text ordinance.

The zoning ordinance review committee includes architects Edward R. Niles and Michael E. Barsocchini, and David Weiss, a civil engineer.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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