To Repair or To Rebuild – That is the Question

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Over the next several months, the concrete base of Oceanside’s municipal pier – an iconic 90-year old structure located in California – will be undergoing much needed repairs. However, city officials claim it still may need to be rebuilt entirely over the next few years.

The concrete structure, which is 300 feet long, starts at the west end of Pacific Street and ends at the shoreline. Recently hired crews will have the job of removing small pieces of the concrete surface that have been falling off, as well as repair where the concrete has begun to crack. A consultant will then be brought in to further assess the state of the structure.

City officials say that the bridge, considered a pedestrian bridge, is safe however as stated by Councilman Jerry Kern, “It’s on the verge of becoming urgent (and) we need to start doing something now before it becomes unsafe”.

Although hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every year by the city to replace the parts of the structure with wooden planks and the rusting steel pipe braces that support them, the concrete bridge – which includes stairways leading to The Strand, the city’s lifeguard headquarters and a ramp – has mostly remained untouched since its construction in 1926.

Photo credit: Ken Harrison
Photo credit: Ken Harrison

Though concrete is susceptible to cracking in any environment, the fact that this structure is located in a marine environment adds to cracking susceptibility and therefor rebar rusting. This is due to the fact that marine environments have salty air which, once the salt makes its way into fine cracks in the concrete, works its way down to the rebar leading to rusting. In these locations crew members will then remove the concrete, apply rust inhibitor and coat it with new concrete.

It will then be at the discretion of the consultant in May whether the structure will still need to be completely rebuilt or not. If a new bridge is required to be built entirely, this will cost approximately $10 million.

John Daley, an Oceanside historian, stated that the city should have started taking care of the structure years ago and as such the main problem has simply been neglect.


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