Construction Begins on PCH in Eastern Malibu

Las Tunas State Beach

Construction on a wave breaker and restoration of Las Tunas State Beach began on Pacific Coast Highway between Pena Road and Big Rock Drive in Eastern Malibu on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Though it’s hard to imagine while sitting in traffic on PCH that more construction is a good thing, improvements coming to PCH at Big Rock and Las Tunas could shore-up the roadway just in time for the predicted El Niño coming later this year, though the project is expected to last a full six months or more.

“The 1,600-foot long and 20- to 30-feet tall wave breaker will protect slopes and shoreline that were eroded by high tides that were caused by hurricanes in Mexico last September,” a release provided by The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) read. “The erosion could potentially undermine the highway.”

Hurricane Marie, which struck Mexico last summer, brought intense wave action to Malibu’s beaches, notably knocking out several pilings from the historic Malibu Pier and causing erosion up and down the coast.

New information from Caltrans states that the majority of construction will take place “behind temporary concrete barriers,” without necessitating lane closures.

“When lanes closures are necessary, one lane in each direction will be closed between Pena Road and Big Rock Drive, during the day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and if night work occurs, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday through Friday,” the statement read. “ The contractor expects to work Monday through Sunday.”

The portion of PCH near Big Rock sits on an “active landslide,” according to information shared at the March 2015 California Coastal Commission (CCC) meeting in Chula Vista where the project earned its approval. However, engineers have designed a way to stabilize the road effectively.

“The stacked concrete foundation system will provide support for the roadway and utility lines with some flexibility,” CCC Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth said at the meeting.

According to Ainsworth, there are many benefits to the project aside from highway stabilization, including increased beach access, better views and better access for people with disabilities. The project, which, according to Caltrans, will cost $8.2 million, includes updates for the Las Tunas State Beach parking lot, in addition to roadway improvements and beach rehabilitation.

The parking lot improvement will also add one ADA-accessible spot, as well as a ramp and three new staircases down to the beach.

Nordic Industries of Olivehurst is the contractor on this project.

Meanwhile, residents of nearby Tuna Canyon Road have brought concerns before City Council over a potential mud clog that could take place at PCH and Las Tunas Creek because of improper drainage.

Concerns were first voiced to the city in September. Resident Lloyd Ahern gave an update on progress at the Oct. 26 City Council meeting.

“I think our biggest thing is to be to try to communicate with Caltrans to get these drains fixed,” Ahern told Council. He also offered advice to Caltrans workers, who will be constructing the sea wall between November and February.

“I told them, if they’re going to do it during that time, get your guys wetsuits and life jackets, because your guys are gonna get slaughtered trying to hold up that beach from those waves coming in.”