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Dredging project approved for Newport Beach’s Grand Canal area

City Council awards $444,000 contract to Morro Bay-based Associated Pacific Constructors.

NEWPORT BEACH — Balboa Island is home to many expensive homes, private boating piers and a quaint downtown surrounded by aging seawalls and an increasing amount of sand sediment filling the waters just off its shores.

New seawalls do not appear to be coming anytime soon, although something is being done about the layers of sand sediment piling up in Balboa Island’s Grand Canal.

The Newport Beach City Council awarded a $444,000 contract to Associated Pacific Contractors to dredge sediment from the Grand Canal and dump it out in the ocean.

Associated Pacific replied to City Hall’s request for bids with a $397,000 proposal. City Hall accepted the bid and brought it to the council for approval at its Oct. 11 meeting. Added to the bid were contingencies and incidentals totaling $47,000.

The dredging contract was awarded under the auspices of Newport Beach’s eelgrass permit, which gives the city independent oversight of eelgrass management and dredging contracts.

City staff said dredging would be done in phases.

“In accordance with permitted eelgrass protection limitations, this dredging effort will require multiple phases. The current contract recommended for approval will address dredging in Grand Canal from Park Avenue Bridge to South Bay Front,” city staff explained.

Council member Marshall “Duffy” Duffield supported the dredging project and shed some light on its competitive bidding process.

“The dredging challenge in our harbor is staging the equipment to do the job. We don’t have any equipment for dredging in our harbor,” Duffield told his colleagues. “A marine dredging contractor has to tow his equipment from other harbors miles away and charge the dredging applicant a fee.”

Duffield added the staging process is very expensive and might discourage dredging companies from competing for projects in Newport Harbor.

“Every dredging job in our harbor that requires the sediment to be dumped in the ocean is done by one outfit – Associated Pacific Constructors,” Duffield said. “They charge whatever they need to do the work.”

The council member continued Associated Pacific does great work, but City Hall should revisit its contract award process. Associated Pacific was the only company to submit a bid for the Grand Canal dredging project.

“It’s important to move ahead and get the Grand Canal done, but we should be aware of the process and move toward a program that would offer more bang for the buck,” Duffield said.

City staff acknowledged dredging in and around the Grand Canal area comes with a high price tag.

“The relatively small project size, restrictive access to the Grand Canal, compounded with the exorbitant cost to mobilize and relocate dredging equipment to the local area may have resulted in contractors’ higher than expected bid. Due to the project’s specialized scope, location and relatively small size, staff believes rebidding the project will not likely yield better pricing,” city staff stated in a report to council members.

The Grand Canal was on the City Council’s agenda at about this same time last year when Newport Beach’s elected officials awarded a $246,000 contract to strengthen two sections of seawall protecting the Balboa Island enclave.

City officials acknowledged the need to dredge the Grand Canal during a July 2015 study session. Duffield echoed similar sentiments about 15 months later, telling his colleagues any dredging of the Grand Canal is welcomed.

“The job of dredging the Grand Canal is a good one, and it should go ahead,” Duffield added.

Council members unanimously approved the dredging contract as part of their consent calendar.


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