Swollen river threatens Santa Cruz boardwalk

Water can be viciously powerful. It can patiently erode rock over a thousand years, or wipe away entire cities in minutes.

So what chance does a puny iconic beach boardwalk have against it?  That remains to be seen.

After days of intense rain, the San Lorenzo River has swollen past its banks and cut through sand bars that serve as protection for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park.

That has Kris Reyes, a Boardwalk spokesman, understandably concerned:

“The path the river decided to take to the ocean just so happened to take a hard right turn and run right alongside the boardwalk.”

The concern is that water could seep past a retaining wall and under the boardwalk.

On Thursday, using heavy equipment and bulldozers, workers fashioned a sand berm to run along the back side of the boardwalk, protecting the foundation from being damaged or even washed away.

With crews working to secure the retaining wall, though, Reyes is cautiously optimistic:

“We think we got it pretty much under control. We’re pretty much in wait-and-see mode.”

As a sign of confidence, the amusement park plans on being  open this weekend as expected.

Still, ten inches of rain have fallen in recent days, with more expected for another week. If the river rises high enough to overcome the sand berm, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk could once again find itself in serious trouble.