The steep slopes along Sunset Boulevard on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake have been crumbling for decades, with the winter rains sending rocks, mud and debris on to the sidewalk and street below. Now, the city is preparing a long-term solution to address the problem but it’s going to be costly. On Wednesday, the Board of Public Works approved hiring a design firm to come up with plans for retaining walls to shore up a 200-foot-long section of the slope on the north side of Sunset between Waterloo Street and Coronado Terrace. Those walls alone could cost $1 million but engineers warned much more work will be required.
“The project involved the stabilization of the barren and steep slope adjacent to Sunset Boulevard with construction of soil nailing retaining walls,” said a Bureau of Engineering summary of the project. “Mitigation of the unstable slope is urgent as they pose a danger to pedestrians and vehicles.”
The $1 million wall would be completed by 2014 but it would only serve as the first phase of a three-phase project. Money for those future phases, however, has not been set aside and it’s unclear when they will ever begin, said Gene Edwards, a civil engineer with the city’s Geotechnical Engineering Group.
Also unclear is what the soil nailing retaining wall will look like to passersby. The exterior of the soil nail barrier could be covered either with a steel mesh or a layer of shotcrete, a form of concrete that forms a thin shell. A decision about the wall surface will be made as part of the initial design by MARRS Services. “In short, we are exploring both types of finishes…along with other alternatives yet to be identified.”
The crumbling walls of sandstone in portions of Echo Park and Silver Lake are the legacy of the teams of workers who carved and blasted their way through the hills in the 1880s to build a path for what became Sunset Boulevard.