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Ditch glitch at the beach

Mike Plaza

Mike Plaza

Laura Johnson, Staff writer

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Construction on a large drainage ditch that runs along the north side of Atherton Street has been causing delays and frustrations for some student commuters. 

Construction crews are covering and landscaping the ditch, which runs from Knoxville Avenue to McNab Avenue, to make it safer and more aesthetically pleasing.   

Simone Silva, a senior film major, said she became aware of the construction when she went to park in Parking Structure 2. 

“I was 15 minutes late for [the] class and I came nice and early,” she said.  “I had no idea there was construction.”

Other students were also inconvenienced by the construction project. 

“It sucks,” said Samson Tran, a junior finance major.  “It just makes me have to come here earlier.” 

According to Philip Balmeo, the acting division engineer for the Long Beach Public Works Department, the project will replace the current open drainage system with an underground pipe. 

The first phase of the project, which began in June, focuses on the section between Knoxville and Hackett avenues. 

Balmeo said this phase will involve about three more weeks of pipe-laying being and a week of repaving before landscaping begins. 

Construction on the ditch from Hackett Avenue to McNab Avenue currently has no set date for completion.   

 Although many students are fed up with the resulting delays, a number of Long Beach residents are looking forward to having the ditch dealt with. 

Some residents say there are safety concerns with the current open drainage system, especially when it floods.

Long Beach resident Daryl Supernaw recalls a 1995 flood in which several cars went into the ditch.

“They were completely submerged,” Supernaw said. 

According to City Traffic Engineer David Roseman, “This is one of the only open channels that are left right next to a roadway.” 

Other concerns about the ditch are discussed on the website for the Atherton Ditch Adjacent Neighborhood Association, formed by Supernaw. 

One of these concerns is pollution, since the ditch drains into the Los Cerritos Channel.  The ditch has also become a mosquito breeding ground, attracts graffiti and smells, according to the website. 

Supernaw emphasized that the completed project will be much more attractive and nicer for the both the community and campus.

“When the whole section is done, you’re going to have a median there with some landscaping in it and it’s going to look pretty,” Roseman said.  “It’s much better than an open, ugly ditch that’s got water in the bottom of it.” 

Despite the reasons for the project, several students wondered why the city couldn’t complete the construction at a time with less school traffic. 

Supernaw, however, pointed out that “they did work [on the ditch] all over the summer.  We had the least amount of impact that way on student traffic.” 

Balmeo said whenever there is construction “there’s always going to be an impact [on traffic].”  He pointed out that it is a short-term impact. 

Supernaw encouraged students to use alternative routes, and suggested they check out his association’s website, www.athertonditch.com, to get information and voice any complaints. 

Roseman suggested some specific routes students can use to avoid the mess.  For those exiting Interstate Highway 405 south at Studebaker Road, he advised getting off at Palo Verde Avenue instead.  Students coming north on Studebaker Road could turn left at Anaheim Road instead of Atherton Street, he said. 

Claudia Escobar, a senior finance major, said she is thinking about changing her route because of the construction. 

“I hate it,” she said.  “It actually backed me up about 10 minutes this morning.”

Supernaw, who is himself a CSULB alumnus, said he sympathizes with students’ frustrations, even though he believes the ditch construction necessary. 

“My heart does go out to the students . . . trying to get to campus,” he said.  “I know it’s a hassle.”   
 
 
 

 

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Ditch glitch at the beach”

  1. Robert on September 18th, 2008 12:09 pm

    This is life, quit whining and deal with it like adults.

  2. Lauren on September 18th, 2008 7:28 pm

    Thanks “Robert”, my sentiments exactly! This city is home to more than just CSULB students and it is only fair that we can have the safety and beautification measures that we were promised years ago.

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