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Construction of San Lorenzo River Lagoon Culvert Project is Scheduled to Begin on July 11

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 | July 6, 2022

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.  — The City of Santa Cruz is scheduled to begin construction of the San Lorenzo River Lagoon Culvert Project on Monday, July 11, to address three critical problems related to the lower San Lorenzo River: flooding, public safety and habitat protection.Construction hours are weekdays 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with project completion expected this fall.

Construction will impact Main Beach adjacent to the south side of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. An area there will be fenced in where the contractor will be launching materials across the San Lorenzo River.  There will be two barges in the river for the duration of construction.  Activities in the river may also be affected/limited.

The San Lorenzo River Lagoon Culvert Project will provide a lower San Lorenzo River (also referred to as “lagoon” when closed) water height control system to prevent flooding, and reduce or eliminate “catastrophic” breaches of the lagoon, and mitigate life-safety dangers. This includes multiple benefits across environmental, public safety and infrastructure fronts.

The project has been in design, in partnership with regulatory agencies for many years including NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Coastal Commission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Construction is funded by a $2,215,000 grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s Streamflow Enhancement Program and $658,000 from City of Santa Cruz Storm Water, General and Liability Funds.

The project will:

  • Prevent excessive flooding of lower Ocean and Beach Flat neighborhoods caused by a closed lagoon (a condition that has been exasperated unnaturally by the construction of the harbor jetties in the 1960s).
  • Reduce or eliminate “catastrophic” breaches of the lagoon which seriously damage the habitat for, and can purge, protected species including steelhead trout and tidewater goby.
  • Mitigate life-safety danger posed by lagoon breaches which can sweep beachgoers into life-threatening swift waters.

A project video overview, plans, specifications and frequently asked questions can be viewed at www.cityofsantacruz.com/Culvert in English and Spanish.

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