Workers on Thursday began replacing pilings that hold up the landmark Ventura Pier, hopeful that the wooden structure will be shored up in time to reopen by New Year's Day.
Powerful waves wrenched out nine of the 60-foot pier supports on Monday, forcing Ventura officials to close the 122-year-old walkway. Another piling was knocked out Wednesday by heavy surf.
Facing a long wait for loggers to fill a special order for new pilings, city officials were able to find replacements in Port Hueneme.
Workers drove the first hunk of wood into the ground Thursday morning.
"The surf has settled down," said Mark Watkins, a construction engineer for the city who remains hopeful that the work will be completed by New Year's Day.
"Certainly, it's not a guaranteed thing," he added. "But the fact that we are getting that piling in there today, and that the weather seems to be cooperating, gives us a sense of optimism."
The broken pilings were found to be sound in an underwater inspection in 1993.
The entire 1,958-foot-long pier was reopened last year after a $3.5-million renovation. As part of that renovation, workers only replaced pilings identified as rotted by a diver who tested them with a hammer.
That left in place hundreds of old pilings, including the ones ripped away by the surf on Monday.
"Even with what has happened, I still look back at the decisions that were made during construction and I think they were good decisions," Watkins said. "You have 600 pilings, you just figure you're going to have to replace a certain number of them every year."
Watkins said the repairs would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 and will be paid for by money set aside to maintain the structure, the longest free-standing wooden pier in California.