The current state of construction on the Colorado Lagoon channel project. Courtesy the city of Long Beach.

Heavy rains at the start of this year and unanticipated utility removal will delay completion of the multi-million dollar Colorado Lagoon channel project until at least April 2025, according to a city presentation Wednesday evening.

The associated street closures on Colorado and Eliot streets are expected to remain in place until at least late January 2025.

Construction, which began in December 2022, was originally scheduled to wrap up in March this year.

The channel project is the fourth and final phase of the city’s Colorado Lagoon Restoration Plan meant to improve water quality and restore habitat that was lost from overdevelopment.

Prior to the start of construction, small marine life had to traverse a 1,000-foot long underground pipe that was 8-foot by 12-foot to cross from Alamitos Bay to the Colorado Lagoon and back. That passage included screens that were meant to keep trash out.

During construction, those screens were removed and crews built a diversion channel that marine mammals like sea lions have already begun to use to pass between Alamitos Bay and the lagoon, according to the city.

Once construction is complete, it will allow for much easier passage between the two bodies of water through the new tidal channel.

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

Other features of the project include new bike and walking paths along with public viewing areas with signage and benches overlooking the new intertidal habitat and channel.

A significant amount of the work during the current phase includes excavating and moving soil, which needs to be fully dry for construction equipment to work effectively, according to city staff.

Because of that, rain at the beginning of the year further delayed the project along with coordinating with Southern California Edison on the removal of protective underground systems for utility wires like electricity and telecommunications.

The timeline was further complicated by the removal of unmapped and third-party utilities along with hazmat abatement.

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Currently, crews are working on completing bridges on Colorado Street and Eliot Street while also moving soil for the bridge foundations and the open channel. During those earthwork activities, crews will continue to remove and dispose of asbestos-containing materials from old utility lines. Once excavation and export activities are complete, irrigation work will begin in Marina Vista Park.

Under the current schedule, the Marina Vista Park rebuild is slated for the final three months of this year. The rebuild includes relocating the baseball field to sit next to the existing tennis and basketball courts and regrading the park to allow for more flexible open space.

After that, the field and sod will have to be established before the park can open to the public in April, subject to weather conditions.

The pedestrian path that currently cuts diagonally across the construction area will be relocated along Eliot Street this fall to allow for park construction to be completed, according to city staff.

The original budget for the project was $32.5 million — with $32 million from the Port of Long Beach and $539,205 from the city’s Tidelands Fund. The current project budget is approximately $34 million with the rise in costs set to be covered by the Tidelands Fund using money that was left over from the first phase of the project.

Previous improvements to the lagoon included shoreline restoration, culvert cleaning, habitat creation and storm drain improvement.

The city provides updates about the project on the Colorado Lagoon Open Channel Project webpage. Further questions about the project can be sent to [email protected].