CARLSBAD–The City of Carlsbad will add railings and other safety improvements to the four-lane bridge over the power plant’s discharge channel from the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon.
Carlsbad Boulevard between Cannon Road and Tamarack Avenue will see some increased construction activity as the city and NRG Energy, which owns and operates Encina Power Station, work on separate projects in the area.
The bridge was built without railings in 1954. Only chain-link fencing separates drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on both sides of the bridge. The new railing on the west side of the bridge will be built of a colored concrete to complement the existing seawall. Along with new railings, work crews will remove and install new sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, and new fencing. The project also includes a new water line.
Construction began in January and is expected to be completed by Memorial Day. The bridge will be repaved at the end of the project.
The city will maintain travel lanes for vehicles and bicycles, but they will be reduced to one lane southbound for the duration of the project. Northbound traffic will be reduced to one traffic lane only when necessary. Pedestrians will have a path with a protective concrete barrier on the west side at all times.
NRG Energy, along with the help of other power plant construction contractors and boiler companies that provide burner service, is also building a new, smaller power plant that will soon replace the current plant.
NRG has hired a company to remove an old pipe that runs along the ocean floor from about a half mile offshore to the power plant. The pipe used to deliver fuel oil when the power plant’s steam turbines were powered by oil. The 64-year-old plant converted to natural gas in the 1980s. The plant has not used fuel oil for backup purposes since the early 2000s, so the pipe and its terminal are obsolete.
The old oil storage tanks were demolished already to accommodate the new power plant, called the Carlsbad Energy Center Project.
As part of the pipe removal project, NRG will also remove the smaller rock jetty located just south of the discharge channel that protected the pipe. It will be removed in February and will take about two weeks.
From February to April, NRG will complete is regular dredging of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Sand is drawn into the lagoon’s outer basin from the beach as part of the power plant operation, and NRG dredges the lagoon every two to four years and returns the sand to the beach. This year about 200,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed on the beach in the area south of the Tamarack Avenue parking lot and north of Cannon Road.
NRG is approaching completion of the new Carlsbad Energy Center, which is under construction on the same property as the Encina Power Station, near the railroad tracks. The plant is being built in the former fuel oil tank basin about 25 feet deep, so less of the plant will be visible.
NRG officials expect the new plant to be substantially complete by about September and undergo commissioning and testing before it goes into operation by the end of the year.
After Carlsbad Energy Center is fully operational, NRG will begin to decommission and demolish the old power plant, including its 400-foot stack. That process is expected to take about three years, with the old plant estimated to come down in 2021.