AVALON – The light is finally appearing at the end of the tunnel. After attempting to provide a new fuel dock in Avalon Harbor for years, one is finally on the way. According to city officials, a new fuel dock could arrive at Avalon Harbor before the summer of 2016.
Harbormaster Brian Bray said the design process is almost complete. After being considered by the Avalon Planning Commission, the California Coastal Commission will weigh in on the proposed plans for the new fuel dock. The Avalon City Council will also be part of the approval process.
“We’ve been trying to replace this for seven or eight years,” said Bray, who added that the city has received some grant money for the project.
In 2009, the Coastal Commission approved a $1 million grant for the fuel dock rebuild. According to news reports, the city had completed construction plans in 2011 and began searching for a contractor. City officials reportedly hoped to move forward replacing the current fuel dock, which was built in the 1920s, at that point. However, plans stalled when the price tag for the new fuel dock hit $3 million, which exceeded all budget forecasts.
Original plans had called for the fuel dock to be constructed out of concrete, which was why the estimated costs were higher than Catalina officials estimated.
However, Bray said the new state-of-the-art fuel dock will be constructed out of wood, allowing the city to build the project for $2 million instead of $3 million.
Construction is expected to start in October 2015 and be completed by April 2016.
During the six months of construction, an alternate fueling plan will be in place, with a gas truck to be stationed on land adjacent to a temporary dock floating on the water and near the permanent fuel dock location.
Once the new fuel dock is constructed, Bray said it would feature an extended dinghy dock, high-speed fuel pumps and on-site restrooms.
Design plans are about 90 percent complete, according to Bray. Dennis Jaich, Avalon’s interim public works director, said construction plans “are still being developed” and final versions of those plans would likely be available within the next two months.
How the new fuel dock will be built depends on who is awarded the contract. Since the fuel dock is adjacent to land, it would be possible to build portions of it from the island. Another option would be building the new dock using a floating barge and crane, which Bray said was “ideal.”
Avalon Harbor services about 20,000 transient boaters each year, though not all of them use the fuel dock.
According to the Coastal Commission, there are four existing underground fuel storage tanks located on land and next to the pier. The storage tanks would be out of service but not altered during construction.
There is another fuel dock on Catalina Island at Two Harbors, which is about 10 miles away from Avalon Harbor.