San Ramon Canyon Storm Drain Project

Background and Purpose

The San Ramon Canyon / Storm Drain Project (a.k.a. Palos Verdes Drive East / Palos Verdes Drive South Roadway Stabilization Project) is located in the southeastern corner of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes at its border with the City of Los Angeles. The canyon also adjoins LA County's Regional Friendship Park. The canyon provides a natural drainage course for neighborhoods near Palos Verdes Drive East. Prior to the project's completion, landslide induced rock and soil deposits in the canyon bottom were being transported by heavy rainfall events down the canyon and were flooding the roadway, overwhelming existing drainage facilities, endangering nearby roadway integrity, and threatening downstream residents.

Project Approach

Despite the urgency of the situation at the project site, an undertaking of this complexity takes time to study, plan, design, and construct so that the most appropriate solution can be found. Environmental, economic, and constructability issues all had to be addressed. Funding solutions needed to be identified and area stakeholders engaged. The City commissioned a project study report to identify alternatives and recommend the alternative that best achieved the project goals. City Council reviewed this report and selected the recommended alternative for design. Detailed engineering design and environmental permitting of the project took about a year to complete and then the project was advertised in the competitive bid process required by law. The low bid was reviewed by staff and found to be a qualified bid, and a construction contract award was made by City Council on March 5, 2013.

Project Funding

This project is the largest capital improvement project in the history of the City, with a price tag that approaches the City's annual general fund budget. Funding solutions were no small part of the discussion during development of the project. The City of Rancho Palos Verdes worked with technical teams from the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County as well as local, state, and federal elected officials to discuss solutions, secure funding, and forge cooperation to move this project forward. In the end, RPV chose to do the project without help from its neighbors, and was able to thanks to a $9.5 million (50%) reimbursement grant from the State Department of Water Resources Storm Water Flood Management (Prop 1E) program. The City elected to fund the balance from its cash reserves in the CIP Reserve Fund. No debt was used to fund the project. Thanks to some heads up work by the project team, including a process called value engineering, the project could be completed for less than the contract awarded price. To take advantage of the available State funds, the City added other storm drainage related improvements to the project.

Project Completion

The project "broke ground" in April of 2013 with work in the canyon. Over the next 18 months, two tunnels (over 2,300 feet in total) were dug, about 4,000 linear feet of 54-inch steel pipe was laid, an aesthetically pleasing sculpted concrete outlet structure was built at the beach, a well anchored concrete inlet structure was installed in the canyon bottom, the canyon streambed was restored to historic elevations, new native habitat landscaping was installed, affected portions of the Palos Verdes Drive East roadway and storm drain system were repaired and improved, and hiking trail access points were created. The City held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project on October 15, 2014. In December of 2014, the project team was awarded a Project of the Year Award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association.