Marina del Rey residents facing extended construction along Via Marina say the plan stinks

A two-year sewer installation project will cause lane closures on Via Marina Photo by Jorge M. Vargas Jr.

A two-year sewer installation project will cause lane closures on Via Marina
Photo by Jorge M. Vargas Jr.

By Gary Walker

Despite opposition from many Marina del Rey residents, the city Bureau of Sanitation is moving ahead with plans to tunnel under a portion of Via Marina for the installation of a new sewer main.

The $60-million effort will lay pipe under Via Marina from Marquesas Way to the mouth of Marina del Rey harbor, then continue across Ballona Creek to resume along Pacific Avenue and part of Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey.

Construction is expected to last about two years, occurring between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Residents expressed worry about traffic congestion, limited access for first responders and the lengthy construction timetable during a Jan. 21 public hearing in Westchester.

Marina Peninsula resident Beth Holden-Garland said she worries about evacuating her family in case of an emergency.

“I have two kids and I think every night about what if there was a disaster and how would we get out of here,” she told city sanitation representatives.

Like many of the 20 or so residents who spoke out during the meeting, Holden-Garland urged officials to consider taking the new sewer line down Pacific Avenue.

“We have all of this new construction going on in the marina, and now this. Things are at a critical mass,” she said.

Pacific Avenue is also congested and has only two traffic lanes as opposed to Via Marina’s three, but the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission submitted a request — read during the meeting by commissioner and marina resident David Lumian — also asking the city to use Pacific Avenue instead of Via Marina.

“Many of the 9,000 residents and businesses of Marina del Rey have voiced their feelings that the two-year traffic diversion plan proposed by the city is an unreasonable burden on their travel to and from their homes and businesses,” the letter states.

The new 48-inch pressurized sewer line will buttress the 54-inch Venice Main Line built in 1960 during the initial construction of Marina del Rey.

Officials worry the current main won’t last much longer without springing leaks and plan to take it offline for repairs as soon as the new sewer line is installed.

The need to act quickly — and the fact that the city is already more than five years into the planning process — means public officials won’t reconsider changing the path of the sewer line, said Ali Poosti, division manager for the city Bureau of Sanitation.

“We’ve been at this for several years. Time is of the essence, and if we delay this any longer we’re getting that much closer to it possibly bursting. The sooner that we get started on this process, the sooner we’ll have a system that is robust and can provide the safety that the residents want,” Poosti said.

An environmental review of the project has already been certified and the city is now seeking a construction permit from the California Coastal Commission.

The Los Angeles City Council approved sewer construction along the Via Marina route in 2010. Los Angeles County officials sued to stop the project, but the city prevailed in a March 2013 legal decision.