There is always hustle and bustle on Sterns Wharf in Santa Barbara, whether it is the tourists or locals on a stroll on the wooden wharf. But now down below, Waterfront maintenance crews are creating quite a stir themselves.
More than 2,000 piles hold up the Stearns Wharf wooden platform, which is the foundation for restaurants, shops and the sea center.
Most of the poles are made of wood but some have been replaced by steel. But either way, the 30-year-old piles are deteriorating.
The best view is underneath the wharf. Down below, the thousands of piles and the creatures that live on them are visible. But some of the worst culprits for causing damage, besides the high surf, are burrowed deep within the wood.
“Just like an old wooden ship, they’re susceptible to ship worms, so they slowly but surely get eaten up,” said Karl Treiberg, Waterfront facilities manager.
The poles directly under the buildings cannot be replaced, so the solution is to strengthen them.
“We wrap them with fiberglass, fill them up with resin and we are able to restore the structural integrity of the pile to make them last a couple more decades,” explained Treiberg.
Each pole costs $4,500 to repair and so far, 20 out of 200 holding up the buildings have been replaced.
Jacqueline and Graeme Jenkinson from Australia visited the wharf 14 years ago and are glad to see it looks just as good as it did back then.
“It’s looked after,” said Jacqueline.
“It’s good to see them doing the work to keep it up,” said Graeme.
The pile project should be completed in five years.
“We invest in this to try to keep this facility safe and secure for the public to enjoy,” said Treiberg.