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Coastal Access Stairways

Layouts and Design of Complete Access System

Listed below are many of the projects we’ve completed for our clients over the years. We’ve chosen to focus and expand on several key examples which are highlighted in blue. Clicking on those projects allows you to view in-depth what services NCI provided as well as details on the project itself.

Dana Headlands Pedestrian Walkway, Retaining Wall & Stairway

Dana Point, CA

As part of the Dana Headlands development, a walkway and associated retaining wall was built atop the shore protective revetment to promote public use and enhance the aesthetic scenic view. To construct the walkway, following installation of the center footing and stem wall, forms were set on the graded surface along each edge of the walkway. The walkway was cast against grade and temporary support from the riprap along the beach side of the structure. The cantilevered slab concept did increase thickness and reinforcement in the section; however, those additional costs were made up in reduced labor and materials costs eliminating the down-slope supports for the structure.


Beach access, through the riprap revetment, is provided by an ADA compliant stairway and an emergency-vehicle access ramp. The stairway is oriented diagonal to the alongshore alignment to minimize wave uprush, with the stairs accommodating a sand elevation range of over 10-feet. The cast-in-place concrete structure is founded on spread footings keyed into bedrock at the base and bearing on competent soil near the top.


To thoroughly understand behavior of the structure under loading and settlement scenarios, a finite element model was used in the structural analysis. Stress levels in the structure, when subjected to lateral earth or seismic forces depend largely on the soil characteristics that support it. By modeling the soil as springs in the finite element analysis, and altering spring constants to cover a safe range of soil characteristics, stress envelopes reflecting the worst-case scenario for all loading and soil combinations were clearly defined. Using this approach produced a design that reliably meets its service requirements.



Dana Headlands Pedestrian Walkway, Retaining Wall & Stairway Dana Headlands Pedestrian Walkway, Retaining Wall & Stairway Dana Headlands Pedestrian Walkway, Retaining Wall & Stairway

Promenade Beach Stairs & Seawall Improvement Design

San Buenaventura, CA

NCI has provided engineering services to improve 1,850 lined feet of a promenade beach access walkway, stairs and seawall which is constructed of reinforced concrete and has been experiencing advanced structural degradation. Our work consisted of providing an aerial site survey and control, geotechnical investigation, concrete testing, engineering analysis to identify the causes of observed failures, preliminary and detailed engineering design of recommended improvements, constructability review and opinion of construction cost, landscape architectural plan to address the overall promenade reconstruction, amenities and design treatments, preparation of construction drawings and contract specifications and documents, and attendance at pre-construction and other meetings.



Promenade Beach Stairs & Seawall Improvement Design

Seascape Sur Beach Access Stairway

Solana Beach, CA

Initially, NCI’s services included evaluation of an existing access timber stairway which traversed a steep bluff face via three intermediate landings with a 36-inch diameter drain pipe beneath the stairway. This drain line had failed taking out a section of the steep bluff and seriously undermining and exposing the existing stairway foundation. A feasibility report was prepared which evaluated alternatives from repair of the existing stairway to design of a new stairway. Construction cost estimates and potential funding sources were also developed. NCI then performed engineering design for a new stairway, and prepared the construction drawings, specifications, and contract documents. The new stairway consisted of 8 landings from top of bluff to beach level over a 70-feet drop in elevation, with 30-inch diameter reinforced concrete piers supporting reinforced concrete landings. Stairs were constructed of timber stringers and steps with a guardrail consisting of aluminum vertical pickets and handrail, and Western Red Cedar top rail and posts. The slope was repaired by installing a sub-drain system and re-compacting the slope materials with reinforced earth geogrids. A new 24-inch diameter lined and coated storm drain pipe was installed down the reconstructed bluff slope with use of a concrete anchor block. NCI services also included providing full time resident inspection and construction management services.



Seascape Sur Beach Access Stairway
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