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Richardson seeks Long Beach breakwater funding

Published 4/4/2009 on Press Telegram

Congresswoman requests $30,000 in federal budget to finish initial phase.
LONG BEACH — Rep. Laura Richardson is seeking federal funding to complete the first stage of the Long Beach breakwater's reconnaissance study.

The Long Beach Democrat said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C., that she included $30,000 for the breakwater in her 2010 appropriations requests, which were due to Congress on Friday.

With much political jockeying to come, the House and Senate should vote on the spending requests in the fall.

Richardson said she feels confident that the breakwater request has a better chance of getting funded with a Democratic Congress and President Barack Obama in the White House.

Previous breakwater-related study requests by Richardson and her predecessors have been denied.

"That's going to be something we're going to push back on very hard this year – to get that study going so that way we can know once and for all if we need to reconfigure the breakwater," Richardson said. "It is one of my top priorities. I am going to do everything I can to make that happen."

A $100,000 review to determine whether it is economically feasible to do a more expensive and detailed engineering review of the breakwater is already under way, said

Tom Modica, manager of government affairs in the Long Beach City Manager's Office.

The City Council approved the funding last year but expects to get about half of it back from the California Coastal Conservancy, Modica said.

With city oversight, the Moffatt and Nichol engineering firm is performing the study to Corps of Engineers specifications.

The firm has worked as a corps contractor in the past and can accurately mirror what the agency requires in a study, Modica said.

The study should be completed by May or June.

The $30,000 federal appropriation would be enough for the Army Corps to review the city's study and make the official determination if there is federal interest in moving to the next step, which would be a more expansive engineering and environmental study, Modica said in an e-mail.

Dating to 1941, the 2.5-mile Long Beach Breakwater is federally owned and under control of the the Army Corps of Engineers.

The breakwater, along with port development, prevents significant wave action along city beaches. The Surfrider Foundation and other environmental groups have blamed the structure for trapping pollution from the Los Angeles River and other sources.

However, the breakwater is also presumed to reduce flooding risks in Belmont Shore, along the Peninsula and on Naples Island.

The congresswoman submitted the breakwater request with a multimillion-dollar wish list for her 37th Congressional District.

Many of the transportation requests are particularly significant, including $37 million toward the proposed replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge in the Port of Long Beach, $8.7 million to improve Pacific Coast Highway and $4million for bridges and ramps at the southern terminus of the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

There is also a $1.5 million request for the Long Beach Water Department's desalination project, nearly $3.5 million for defense-related language programs for the California State University system, $68,000 for forensic equipment needed by the Long Beach Police Department, and $2 million for an Arlington Street storm drain upgrade, blamed in part for recent Westside flooding.

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