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U.S. to Fund Water, Bluff Erosion Studies

October 13, 1998|LESLEY WRIGHT

Twisting, scenic Blufftop Park may find a little more stability with an expected influx of federal money.

A federal water-funding measure, passed by Congress this month, earmarks $450,000 for water and erosion projects in the city, according to the office of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).

The biggest chunk of the money, $350,000, will pay for a study looking at ways to protect the city's water and sewer system from earthquake dangers.

Another $100,000 will be used by the Army Corps of Engineers to study how to stabilize about two miles of bluff spanning from south of the city pier up to Bolsa Chica State Beach.

The ocean-side park, which includes a trail and safety rail that is in disrepair, is on state land that has been leased by the city for years.

Once a wasteland of rusting oil pipes, the area was restored by a multimillion-dollar effort by the city, county and state.

It now attracts thousands of joggers, hikers and picnickers because of its scenic beauty, said Richard Barnard, a city spokesman.

But some of the cliffs are lost during each successive winter, particularly during heavy rains.

"The erosion is cutting into the park," Barnard said. "If it continues to erode, at a certain point, it will be where Pacific Coast Highway is now."

A study of the area performed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1996 estimated that the erosion would hit the state highway within 25 years and would destroy the path in half that time.

A 6,000-foot safety rail also is heavily eroded and needs to be replaced.

A state plan to fund that $500,000 project a few years ago fell through.

City officials said they have turned to the federal and state governments because the park is a regional recreation area enjoyed by many visitors outside the city.

Efforts continue to find funds to replace the rail.

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