Granite Construction built a new sea wall at Pismo Beach in Encinitas, Calif. to protect against erosion, using cast-in-drilled-hole piles and an epoxy coated steel reinforcing cage. The contractors also built the El Portal Undercrossing, a pedestrian pathway created underneath a nearby railroad crossing that formerly provided access to the beach.



Granite Construction is finishing two unusual projects this summer that showcase its engineering and construction chops. Both projects will provide safer access to locals as they access California’s most prized possession — beaches.

Some beaches have tricky obstacles that make access difficult. In Encinitas, Calif., San Diego County, the obstacle was a busy railroad track. On Ocean Boulevard in Pismo Beach, a beach access was old wood stairs descending precarious rocks. The price for the two projects totaled $12.1 million.

At the Pismo Beach location, Mother Nature seems intent on reclaiming the sand and degrading the rocky bluff. Granite, however, had other ideas.

The city of Pismo Beach awarded a contract to Granite to build a sea wall where the bluff was eroding, replace the beach access stairs, replace an existing storm drainpipe and add a sidewalk for visitors. The beach is well known for its striking rock formations, kayak-friendly location and tide pools that entertain visitors.

Unique million-dollar homes cling to nearby bluffs overlooking the ocean, so the city is interested in strengthening the sea wall near these homes and maintaining the view. Granite took a step beyond just fulfilling the contract by choosing to bring in an artist to “sculpt” the concrete to blend with the rock in the existing bluff.

Granite subcontracted with Condon-Johnson & Associates Inc. (CJA) to drill the shafts, often called cast in drilled hole (CIDH) piles. Once the terrace deposits and rock were removed, workers inserted into the holes an epoxy coated steel reinforcing cage. This cage provides the structural capacity to the pile and the hole is then filled with concrete. There are 32 each 36-in.