The highway construction project in front of La Conchita has been going on for a couple years now, and for most of this time the residents in La Conchita have not been able to use their traditional access to the beach – a four-foot-high drainage tunnel in the center of town. Adding very significantly to the frustration is the fact that the residents could have had access to the beach most of this time, as a new drainage tunnel was completed at least a year ago in the location of the old tunnel. However, the residents were blocked from using it, being told they had to wait for the completion of an adjacent pedestrian tunnel.
The La Conchita residents had always used a drainage tunnel to access the beach, so the reason for not allowing people to use the new, much taller drainage tunnel while the pedestrian tunnel is competed adds to the frustration.
[A contractor associated with the project] has allegedly threatened the community with retribution if anyone tries to use the drainage tunnel to get to the beach, and he appears to be carrying out that threat. I heard that someone had indeed tried to use the drainage tunnel to access the beach and it appears that, as a result, work on the pedestrian tunnel has virtually stopped.
This issue is more than just an issue of convenience, it is also an issue of safety. Their are two remaining drainage tunnels that La Conchita residents can use to access the beach. The one most often used, as it is the next closest to the community, requires you to go over the railroad tracks to get to the tunnel entrance, as the portion of the tunnel under the railroad tracks is filled with dirt, leaving only a couple feet of clearance. So families with children are having to carry their beach stuff up over the railroad tracks to get to the beach – a fairly dangerous situation. The next tunnel is about a quarter-mile past the north edge of town and requires you to walk about 1,000 feet right next to the railroad tracks, then go down a steep concrete drainage about 15 feet long. So both of those alternatives have significant safety issues.