Sycamore Canyon Park Trail Repair Project
June 19, 2019
CONSTRUCTION LAYOUT AND SURVEYING UNDERWAY - Grading and fill placement on the lower slope are completed. Excavation of the terrace keyway on the middle slope and construction layout and surveying of bottom terrace v-drain and stairway are now underway.
June 13, 2019 - SOIL COMPACTION UNDERWAY - Crews have been adding new shelves to the eroded slope through soil compaction and adding geo-grid which helps keep soil tied together.
June 3, 2019 - LOWER SLOPE AREA GRADING COMPLETE - Grading and soil testing at the lower slope area and the first bench key has been completed. Crews are now preparing to begin grading the next step up, or mid-slope.
May 20, 2019 GRADING WORK BEGINS - Grading work begins this week at the lower portion of the slope and will continue for the next two weeks. Following will be the construction of the concrete drainage improvements.
May 13, 2019 - CLEARING SLOPE AREA - Vegetation has been removed within the grading are to allow construction equipment access to the repair site to begin the demolition of the hardscape elements such as the terrace drains and stairways.
May 2, 2019 - CONCRETE DRAINS REMOVED - Demolition of the concrete terrace drains from the upper and lower slopes began this week, including relocation of the irrigation line on the upper slope.
April 18, 2019 - SLOPE REPAIR PROJECT BEGINS - Construction repairs begin on the slope and failed stairway on the Sycamore Canyon trail. Crews started brush clearance today to provide access to the construction equipment needed to remove the concrete staircase. The Diamond Bar Boulevard trailhead entrance will remain closed during construction that is anticipated to be completed by fall 2019. The remainder of the trail is accessible from the Golden Springs Drive park entrance.
2017 Winter Storm Related Damage
The major winter storms of January 18-23, 2017 caused serious damage to portions of Sycamore Canyon Park. In addition to playground and creek bed damage, the heavy rains created an excessive volume of water at Sycamore Canyon Park that resulted in significant erosion and slope failure near the Diamond Bar Boulevard trailhead. The slope failure undermined two of the four tiers of stairway that lead to the trail, rendering access unsafe. The trailhead and stairway access was subsequently closed to the public, pending repairs. The remainder of the trail remains open to hikers.
Project Eligible for FEMA Reimbursement
The damage associated with these severe storms led the County of Los Angeles, State of California, and federal government to declare a local state of emergency, making the cost of the repairs eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The City of Diamond Bar Public Works Department submitted a claim to FEMA and worked with consulting experts to conduct geotechnical and engineering assessments to determine the best course of action to remediate the damage, concluding that the safest and most effective reconstruction of the hillside requires the removal and replacement of the undermined stairs, recompaction of the slope, and the installation of increased drainage facilities to prevent a similar event from happening again. The competitive bidding process established the cost of the repairs at $1.2 million.
The City’s assessment and remediation plan was submitted to FEMA via the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) on March 16, 2017. On October 16, 2017, FEMA responded with the opinion that the submitted project scope constituted an “improved project” and recommended that the undermined stairways be repaired in place rather than be removed and replaced as recommended by the licensed engineers that conducted the assessment. The “improved project” designation limits the City’s funding reimbursement eligibility to approximately $285,000, a fraction of the project cost established in the competitive bid process and original commitments by FEMA.
On November 16, 2017, the City filed a letter with FEMA challenging the “improved project” designation and emphasizing that the originally recommended scope of work is necessary to safely repair the damage. Subsequently, FEMA requested additional information and technical studies, to which the City has responded in full. However, since receiving the letter and participating in several subsequent meetings convened by the City and CalOES, FEMA has yet to respond with a written decision.
Project Repair Delay
The City completed project plans, specifications, and the competitive bidding process, and prepared to award a contract and commence construction immediately upon FEMA approval. If the City awarded a contract and commence work prior to receiving FEMA approval, it would invalidate the claims process and leave the City responsible for the entirety of the project cost. However, if approved, the City’s share of the project will be 6.25 percent of the total project cost of $1.2 million, resulting in taxpayer savings of $1.125 million.
Despite the delays, the City continued its good faith efforts to work with FEMA to reach a conclusion that would result in a safe restoration of the Sycamore Canyon Trail and protect the greatest amount of local funding that can be used to fund public safety, infrastructure improvements, and programming for Diamond Bar residents.
FEMA Approves Project for Funding
In December 2018, the City received Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approval of the project scope which allows for the commitment of the funds necessary to commence construction of the Sycamore Canyon Park Slope and Trail repair project. At its January 15 meeting, the City Council approved the design and plans, and awarded a contract to CEM Construction Corporation to begin the repairs at the park and trail. The project began in spring 2019 and is scheduled for completion in fall 2019.
Questions or comments related to this project? Contact the Public Works Department at (909) 839-7040.