Newport Beach City Council approves second phase for Grand Canal dredging project

Council members, despite some hesitation, vote in favor of the $1,383,070 re-bid to finish removing sediment from canal and an added location at Harbor Island.

NEWPORT BEACH — Some back and forth about the urgency of dredging Grand Canal took place at the Newport Beach City Council meeting on Oct. 23. City Council members ultimately decided to move forward with a re-bid that would complete the second phase of the dredging operation.

The first phase of the dredging activity was completed in February 2017 from Park Avenue Bridge to South Bayfront (the south side only) for a total cost of $379,545.

In August, the first bid for the second phase was rejected due to limited work hours and calendar work days available. Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller said one of the reasons re-bidding was recommended was to cut costs; the second phase cost was estimated at nearly $1.5 million. Another reason for the rejection, according to Miller, was the previous bid only offered limited work hours and calendar days to complete the dredging project.

A re-bid, which was delivered to city staff in October, estimated a base cost of $1,283,070 and the Harbor Island location was added for $103,820, for a grand total of $1,383,070.

Council member Brad Avery mentioned the cost seemed like “a lot of money for a small channel.”

Miller, in response, stated: “There is nothing that says this project is critically urgent this year,” but also added the canal tends to omit a bad odor during low tides and that the canal’s oxygen levels benefit from being circulated.

In today’s economy, Miller also noted that only two companies really bid on these small dredging projects, so there is typically not a lot of flexibility in cost or competition for the bids.

Because the pricing quote is not likely to change any time soon, council members agreed not to wait.

Some council members were concerned about the possible noise, but Miller stated: “I wouldn’t characterize it [dredging] as quiet, but it wouldn’t be as noisy as you think.”

The canal, which is mostly navigated by boaters with small vessels or paddleboarders, is only 1,488 feet long and 95 feet wide, and it was first dredged in 1953. Miller also stated that the channel was closed from May to October during the busy months so as it does not become too crowded.

Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Council member Scott Peotter recused themselves from this agenda item due to business conflict of interests. Coincidentally, Duffield and Peotter were voted off the council during the last election on Nov. 6.

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