Work could resume on the Murrieta Creek flood control project in Temecula as soon as early 2013, it was announced Tuesday.
The news came during a Temecula city council meeting when Riverside County Superivsor Jeff Stone and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Riverside County Flood Control District spoke about their newest plan to revive the project.
January will mark 20 years since six people died as a result of flooding from Murrieta Creek. The cities of Temecula and Murrieta, which share the 7-mile waterway that feeds into the Santa Margarita River and eventually the Pacific Ocean, experienced more than $12 million combined in damages during the January 1993 major flood event.
“Many of us here were in 1993 when we were the focus of a natural federal disaster,” said Stone, who served as a Temecula city councilman at the time. “We spent a million and half in reserves in one weekend helping the businesses of Old Town (Temecula) get back on their feet.”
The flooding also caused major damages on Camp Pendleton, through which the Santa Margarita River runs.
In 2001, fixing the creek was designated as an Army Corps flood control project, which qualified it for federal funding.
The four-phase plan was intended to deepen and widen Murrieta Creek in Temecula and Murrieta, build a 270-acre detention basin near the Temecula/Murrieta boundary and create 160 acres of wildlife habitat.
The Army Corps finished phase one in 2005, but then the economy fell flat and federal funding got yanked.
In May, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the formation of a local Joint Powers Authority to oversee the project, having not seen any recent, significant federal movement. The cities of Murrieta, Temecula and Wildomar, through which the creek winds, were invited to be a part of the JPA.
Stone said talks continued with the Army Corps.
In light of new leadership in the Corps’ Los Angeles region, a new plan was unveiled Tuesday that would concentrate on completing phases two and three, with an indefinite date for phase four, which lies in Murrieta.
The county and the Army Corps would share in the cost of phases two and three.
According to Stone, the county’s Flood Control District has $30 million set aside for the project.
Approximately $18 to $19 million is needed for phase two, which runs through Old Town Temecula and includes a new bridge for Main Street.
That initial funding will need to come from the county while the Army Corps works on getting the project through the appropriate channels—ultimately Congress—to secure funding.
A time line given Tuesday by David Van Dorpe, Army Corps deputy district engineer for the Los Angeles region, showed phase two will go out to bid by February. A construction contract will be awarded in April if all goes well, he said.
“This has to go all the way up to Congress to acknowledge that they concur with this accelerated use of funds,” Van Dorpe said.
In the meantime, $500,000 has been allocated to complete design plans. An environmental assessment also needs to begin right away, he said.
“Where we want to be one year from now is basically in phase two construction with all the funding in place,” Van Dorpe said.
By putting the project forth as three phases instead of four, Van Dorpe said the hope is it will compete well nationally.
Ideally, he said the funding for phase three would be in place for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.