Middle Breakwater Breach

SEEN BETTER DAYS. Aerial photos show several breaches in the Middle Breakwater caused from a recent storm surge.

Hurricane Marie has damaged the Middle Breakwater, with possible repairs costing tens of millions of dollars, officials say.

Greg Fuderer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman, said coastal engineers spent Aug. 29-Sept. 4 examining the breakwater by boat, air and foot. The breakwater is split into three parts, the San Pedro Breakwater, Middle Breakwater and Long Beach Breakwater. The Middle Breakwater mainly covers the Port of Long Beach.

According to Fuderer, there are 11 major damaged areas on the Middle Breakwater that require immediate attention. Those breaches could be adversely impacted by ongoing wave action. Depending on the severity of the waves, the breaches can grow larger.

“The next step is to develop a plan to repair the damage — which ranges from breach, to significant damage, to moderate damage, to minor damage,” Fuderer said. “The locations of the impacted areas will most likely affect the sequence and magnitude of work the Corps will conduct.”

The lead inspecting engineer said that initial estimates show a couple hundred tons of rocks were dislodged and moved from the Middle Breakwater. The cost of repairing the major 11 breach spots on the Middle Breakwater alone is estimate at $20 million. The Army Corps will have to use water-based equipment including rock barges and cranes to fix the breaches.

“They can’t just pile rocks on there,” Fuderer said. “They actually select individual stones to place and angle into the right spots, interlocking as much as possible.”

Fuderer added that the damage prevented at the Port of Long Beach and the city during the surge proves the overall effectiveness of the breakwater in the region.

“That’s the purpose of these breakwaters, to dissipate the energy of the waves coming in,” he said. “It did suffer some damage, but the damage it prevented is going to make the previous investment, and what it costs now to repair it, well worth it.”

As for the Port of Long Beach, spokesman Art Wong said there was some damage sustained from last week’s storm surge, particularly on south-facing piers.

Specifically, the Navy Mole saw big damage along a rode. Overall POLB damage repairs could cost a couple million dollars, Wong said. POLB officials are continuing to assess the damage.

There are eight additional “significant damage” areas on the Middle Breakwater that engineers singled out as needing attention after the initial 11. Beyond that, the Long Beach Breakwater has 10 combine major and significant damage areas. Officials said they would continue to work on cost estimates for repairing everything, along with searching for funding options to execute the work.

Jonathan Van Dyke can be reached at jvandyke@gazettes.com.

Breakwater Damage Areas       Major     Significant     Moderate

San Pedro                                  0              11                 7

Middle                                      11              11                 28

Long Beach                                6                4                  4

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