TEMECULA, Calif. – Col. Kirk Gibbs, commander of the Corps’ Los Angeles District, met here Sept. 23 with local representatives to discuss the status and issues of Murrieta Creek project, and observe the on-going construction on the recently awarded Phase IIA construction contract. The on-going construction is through the Corps and Riverside County Flood Control District’s accelerated funds agreement.
In addition to the construction of a small segment of the channel, Los Angeles District is working on a Limited Re-evaluation Report to improve the capability of the project to get federal funds for the construction of its remaining phases. During the meeting, Gibbs assured the local sponsor that the District is fully committed to the project and will work with the sponsor to move it forward. The re-evaluation report effort includes removing inefficient features and continuing to work with the sponsor to identify cost saving measures and improve the benefit to cost ratio.
The meeting provided an opportunity for Gibbs to meet Dusty Williams, the general manager and chief engineer of the Riverside County Flood Control & Water Conservation District. Williams, who is one of the area’s chief proponents for the project, regularly meets with Corps personnel and with Congressional representatives to help garner support and funding for the project.
The need to construct an effective means to reduce the risk of flood damage became evident during flooding the area experienced more than two decades ago. Sitting in a conference room at the Temecula Community Center immediately across the creek from Old Town Temecula, Williams told Gibbs, “Where you’re sitting was underwater in ’93.”
The project is a multi-purpose flood control, environmental restoration and recreation project along 7.5 miles of Murrieta Creek, a major tributary to the Santa Margarita River. The authorized project’s major features include about seven miles of channel improvements, three bridge replacements, a 270-acre detention basin with 163 acres of wetland restoration and a 49-acre recreation park. The project is divided into four construction phases.
Phase 1, a roughly half-mile section immediately downstream from Phase 2, was completed in 2005.
Work on Phase 2 of the project includes a stretch of the creek through the heart of city’s business district. Following the removal of vegetation from the channel, which is expected to take about four to five weeks, the Corps will conduct a survey to determine more accurately the volume of material to be removed. The contract authorizes 600 days to complete the Phase 2 work.