A rendering of the tidal channel that will connect the Colorado Lagoon (top) with Marine Stadium (bottom).

A $32 million project that could further improve water quality in the Colorado Lagoon by connecting it to the Marine Stadium channel could break ground in the fall, bringing to a close a decades-long effort to enhance environmental health in the body of water.

The Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a contract with Reyes Construction to execute the plan that will see a portion of Marina Vista Park transformed into a tidal channel and intertidal habitat, install new bike paths and walking paths and convert portions of Colorado and Eliot streets into bridges.

It’s expected to take about 18 to 24 months to complete the project with Public Works Director Eric Lopez saying work could begin later this year.

“We won’t be interrupting any summer-related activities at Marina Vista Park,” Lopez said of the fall start date.

Connecting the two bodies of water will allow for better water circulation that had been hindered by the existing underground culvert not being large enough to adequately provide enough water to circulate into and out of the lagoon.

The project is being funded primarily by the Port of Long Beach, which approved $26 million in July 2019 to buy “mitigation credits” that offset the impact of port projects that take up open water space by investing in the creation of new open space. The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved an additional $5.7 million for the project Monday.

Within the park, the western portion that will become a tidal channel will be offset by a regrading of the rest of the park to increase the usable space. The project will also recreate a baseball field that currently sits in the project’s footprint.

Project plans also show a new pedestrian lookout area, benches, walking trails and vegetation that will line the tidal channel. Completion of the channel was originally anticipated for 2022 but now will stretch into 2024.

Harbor Commissioners approve $26 million for Colorado Lagoon open channel project

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.