Last year’s storms and delays in utility removal have pushed the multi-million dollar Colorado Lagoon channel project — and related street closures — into 2025, according to a presentation by city staff.

The project, which will connect the lagoon to Marine Stadium, broke ground in December 2022, with road closures slated to last 16 months. The original plan would have meant streets would reopen around March of this year. Numerous delays, however, pushed the reopening of Colorado and Eliot streets into 2025.

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Excessive rain during the first quarter of last year was the first delay that work crews encountered, according to a Dec. 13 presentation. The greater hurdle, however, was the removal of unmapped and third-party utilities and hazmat abatement.

Utility relocation and removal was anticipated to take about four and a half months but ended up taking 10 months, the presentation shows. Recent heavy rains have not caused further delays but the city will reassess again after next week’s storm, according to Public Works spokesperson Joy Contreras.

The area near Colorado Street has been excavated and construction of the utility bridge is underway, according to the presentation. Excavation and demolition of the existing box culvert is underway on the Eliot Street side of the project, which will make way for bridge construction.

A rendering of the completed Colorado Lagoon-Marine Stadium channel project. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

The original budget for the project was $32.5 million — $32 million from the Port of Long Beach and $539,205 from the city’s Tidelands Fund. Due to inflation and supply chain issues last year, the current project budget is about $33.6 million, Contreras confirmed.

The additional cost also is being covered by the city’s Tideland Fund, including $300,000 left over from the first phase of the Colorado Lagoon project almost a decade ago.

But the team will soon be “conducting a cost analysis to understand significant budget changes, if any,” she added.

Improving the lagoon’s water quality has been a 23-year endeavor, which began when community concerns in 2001 forced the development of a feasibility study on how to clean it up. The study led to a series of improvements, including shoreline restoration, storm drain improvement, culvert cleaning and habitat creation.

The 18-acre channel will replace the underground pipe that currently connects the lagoon to the ocean, which will greatly increase water circulation in the hope of further fostering marine habitat restoration, according to the city.

The project also includes new bike and walking paths, a public viewing area, two vehicle bridges and a reconfiguration of Marina Vista Park with new sports fields.

Work continues on the Colorado Lagoon-Marine Stadium channel project. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.