Oceanside Harbor dredge mobilizes under new safety plan: a Manson project

Sand from the Oceanside Harbor is pumped onto the beach north of the pier in 2018. (Union-Tribune)

Posted on April 6, 2021

A new safety plan has been created for Oceanside’s annual spring harbor dredging and beach replenishment after a homeless woman sleeping on the beach was run over and killed last year.

Every morning workers will look for people sleeping on the beach, and a heavy equipment corridor will be established with traffic delineators, barricades and signs. Crew work areas will be surrounded with chain link fencing with locked gates to prevent unauthorized access, states a copy of the safety plan provided to the city.

All heavy equipment being moved outside fenced areas will be escorted by an ATV at a 5 mph speed limit, according to the nine-page plan with photos and maps released by the dredging contractor, Manson Construction Co.

Dredging equipment is scheduled to begin arriving Monday, according to a city announcement. The San Luis Rey riverbed near the beach will be fenced off to protect wildlife during the work, which is to be completed no later than Memorial Day weekend.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials estimate that 225,000 to 250,000 cubic yards of clean sand is available in the harbor channel to be removed and pumped onto the nearby beach.

“Due to the large amount of sand that was lost during the recent storms, a significant amount of dredged sand will need to be placed on beaches near North Coast Village and Surfrider Way before moving toward the pier,” states an informational update presented to city officials. “The Corps has cautioned that there may not be enough dredge material to move past the pier.”

A year ago, the spring dredging project began with a goal of placing 400,000 cubic yards of sand on the Oceanside beach. Manson intended to get more sand by going 5 feet deeper, to 30 feet in the harbor’s main channel, than in previous years.

However, because of rough weather and the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, the effort finished early after dredging 250,000 cubic yards of material and left the maximum depth at 25 feet.

Because the spring project was cut short, sand built up more quickly than usual in the harbor entrance and Manson was brought in to dredge again in the fall.

Last year’s fatality occurred as a Caterpillar tractor was crossing the sand about 10 a.m. Sept. 28 in the 1200 block of North Pacific Street. The woman was later identified as Carol Ann Aguirre, 68, a transient, who was fully clothed and apparently asleep. Police said there was no indication drugs or alcohol were involved.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for keeping coastal waterways navigable and has a contract with Manson to do the Oceanside maintenance job for about $5 million a year.

Some years, Oceanside pays extra to extend the Manson contract and put additional sand on the beach. In recent years, the city has offered to pay up to $600,000 for more sand.

Like most of coastal San Diego County, Oceanside relies on periodic mechanical sand replenishment to slow coastal erosion and protect its beaches and shoreline structures.

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