For decades, the County of Santa Cruz has been battling bluff erosion along East Cliff Drive at Pleasure Point, one of the most heavily used and valued sections of coastline in the County. East Cliff Drive is designated as a County scenic roadway, and provides public access to the beaches and world-renowned surfing breaks along Pleasure Point. As bluff erosion continued, there was an increasing danger that the majority of East Cliff Drive (already reduced to a single lane of traffic), and the primary utilities that run below it, would be lost.
In order to improve and enhance public access to Pleasure Point, the County designed a parkway for pedestrians and cyclists with scenic overlooks, a new restroom structure, and improved parking. To stabilize the eroding coastal bluff and protect the proposed parkway improvements, the County recently constructed approximately 1,400 linear feet of seawall that was designed by SAGE.
The seawall project spanned over a decade from initial project planning through final design and construction. During the project planning and permitting phase, SAGE provided geostructural engineering and geological support to the County and developed conceptual design plans for a soil nail wall, built-out overlooks, and stairways. Mr. Steve Sanders, SAGE President/Principal Engineer, participated in project team strategy meetings, community workshops, and Coastal Commission hearings. In addition, SAGE prepared detailed bluff evaluation reports documenting the existing bluff conditions and evaluating the degree of threat to the roadway and utilities from coastal erosion. The reports were submitted to the Coastal Commission as part of the coastal development permit application to demonstrate that the proposed bluff protection efforts were warranted to protect and improve public access.
Following the permit approval by the Coastal Commission in 2007, SAGE performed a geotechnical investigation and prepared the final structural design plans, specifications, and estimates. SAGE engineers worked closely with County personnel to address technical issues related to construction in a scenic and sensitive coastal environment. Project challenges included the design of stairways integrated into the wall facing at three locations, emergency egress routes for surfers stranded at the base of the bluff during high tides, and build-out areas to create scenic overlooks and to reclaim areas where the existing roadway had been lost to erosion. To address aesthetic concerns, the concrete seawall facing was textured and stained to replicate the native terrace deposits and Purisima Formation bedrock.