Photo Credit: Shima Razipour
For over a year, Long Beach residents have noticed a group of men working on the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and 2nd Street. The plan was created by the Public Works project hoping to expand the highway and increase traffic flow.
While local residents are forced to use Pacific Coast Highway to reach designated places, many have avoided shopping in the plaza all together, leaving business owners frustrated.
The construction site which is located directly in front of one of the main entrances, has caused many setbacks for businesses located inside the shopping center. "Many residents assume the entire shopping center is closed. They think something is going on. Something with the restaurant, so they just don’t come anymore,” Hof’s Hut manager Carlos Torress said. “
Traffic has been really impacted. Luckily, there is still a back opening to the lot. Otherwise, no one would be able to come in. Traffic is really bad these days and less people want to drive down PCH just to have some lunch or go shopping.”
One of Long Beaches inspectors, Homer Flewellen, has worked alongside other inspectors to guide a number of construction workers from Sully Miller company daily to complete the task. Flewellen said that the men were placing nearly 30 storm drain pipes to reduce future flooding in the area.
The initial goal was to create an extended intersection; however complications have delayed the project further than anticipated. “The project has been on and off for a year now, because Edison had to shut down the power,” Flewellen said. According to the City of Long Beach’s website, Edison shut down the entire Marina Pacifica Mall for 12 hours on September 11 and ended the power switch-over on September 12.
The complications of the project included the power switch-over and the unexpected underground work. Construction workers have spent several months digging through the pavement to create space to place the large pipes. One by one they’ve been placed behind one another to create a tunnel that allows excess water that has collected to be distributed into the ocean.
Due to the complications, only minimal work was allowed leaving many residents upset that the project was taking so long. Flewellen said, “Drivers are upset, because it has taken so long. But, they don’t understand that we had a lot of problems and had to wait for utilities from Edison.”
In addition to business owners, local residents have greatly felt impacted by the construction. Chuck Bragdan of Long Beach, explains that he lives very close to the construction site and it has disturbed his route. After leaving Albertson’s, he explained that “Traffic has been really impacted. Luckily, there is still a back opening to the lot. Otherwise, no one would be able to come in. Traffic is really bad these days.”
Students who attend Long Beach city College and Cal State Long Beach have also found the construction site to be a disturbance. "Students that are on the go commuting to CSULB and to work or wherever else are affected,” CSULB student Jessica Mendoza said. “It is frustrating to sit in traffic. I'm thankful that they are redoing our roads, but they need to make sure to stay on schedule in a busy city such as LB.”
CSULB student Ashley Lopez said, “I never personally use PCH, but I’m sure it is making a lot of students late to class. It is hard to find a new route to take and can be an inconvenience.”
Despite being the only traffic complications, Flewellen said, "The final project will benefit residents of Long beach. Although it has taken a very long time, it going to help people in the end. Now drivers turning right will have their own lane and during the rainy season, there will be no flooding."
The plan to add a new drain system was added after workers found that the previous storm drains were clogged with trash and debris. Flewellen said, “The new drain system will work great, if residents do not continue to dump their trash in it. The drain system will include a moving slide door in front that will work to reduce trash from coming in.“
Flewellen said, "I believe there is only four months left to this project, if all works in our favor. But I know businesses want us out of here sooner." The city of Long Beach has stated on their website that there is no estimated time frame for the competition.