APWA Central Coast and ASCE San Luis Obispo Branches Honor San Luis Obispo Bank Stabilization Project


March 2023 – The Central Coast Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) presented the City of San Luis Obispo with the Project of the Year Award in the Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair (>$5-$25 million) category for the San Luis Obispo Bank Stabilization Project on San Luis Drive. This project was also recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) San Luis Obispo Branch for Outstanding Flood Management Project for 2024.

The 2023 winter storms caused significant damage to various areas within the City of San Luis Obispo, including a section of San Luis Creek near San Luis Obispo High School. This section of the creek lined San Luis Drive, just North of California Boulevard. The rushing water eroded the creek’s banks, causing a bluff failure, significant damage underneath the road, and threatened the safety of the nearby neighborhood. This damage undermined the sidewalk, posing an imminent threat to the roadway, buried utilities (gas line and diesel fuel lines), and the residents’ only entrance to San Luis Drive Road.

The City’s staff immediately began repairs to protect the sole access route to 140 homes, as well as the underground utilities beneath the streets; thus, a soldier pile retaining wall was constructed. Within a year, the severe damages were completely repaired:

  • Road repaved
  • Sidewalks rebuilt
  • 350-foot long / 25-foot high concrete retaining wall constructed along the creek to prevent further erosion, protecting the access route

The project was designed and constructed simultaneously, expediting project delivery prior to the rainy season. Due to good planning and some good weather, a majority of the work (90%) was completed in November of 2023. The rapid progress resulted in the City deciding to add several scope items, including:

  • Soil nail wall
  • New outlet to the existing concrete box culvert
  • Additional creek “shoulder” widening on the opposite side of the creek
  • New irrigation water line and meter at the end of Grove Street, to irrigate future planting on the creek shoulder.

The final project was successfully completed on January 9th, prior to the 2024 major storms. Congratulations to all who contributed to this project’s quick and successful completion!