A Laguna Canyon channel construction project will shut down two lanes of South Coast Highway between Broadway Street and Ocean Avenue starting in April. 

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The work to be completed by Caltrans will result in the lane closures, 24 hours a day, for approximately eight weeks, according to a Laguna Beach city staff report. Caltrans will replace the deteriorated portion of the channel under the highway, just south of Broadway.

Laguna Beach City Council in late February unanimously approved paying Traffic Management Inc., an amount not to exceed $216,400, to manage resulting traffic congestion in downtown during the construction period.  An additional $20,000 will be set aside for police department cadets to provide traffic control on weekends, the staff report states.

One of the biggest concerns the City Council had was the traffic congestion Laguna Beach will face during construction due to the lane closures. Caltrans personnel will help with the traffic blockage on the intersections on Coast Highway, but Caltrans has not agreed to traffic assistance in the downtown areas, the staff report states. Cost-sharing discussions between the city and Caltrans are expected to continue. 

During the public hearing in February, Itsik Bouhbot, the owner of Le Macaron French Pastries, which is near the construction site, told the council he understood why this construction was necessary, but he wished it would take place during the winter, not before the summer, a period during which he claims his business is the busiest. 

“We’ve been hit with a pandemic, you know, what’s going to happen to my business? You know, you guys are going to put me out of business, you have to think about this,” said Bouhbot.

The California Department of Transportation project is expected to cost approximately $3.5 million to be paid through the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.

This portion of the Laguna Canyon channel was built in 1928 and said to be in “advanced deteriorating condition.” 

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