Another jewel in Del Mar
By Crystal Crawford
Mayor of Del Mar
The newly finished viewing platform fashioned from what was the Grand Avenue Bridge will soon be open. The platform is just another example of our community preserving resources for the benefit of generations to come.
The platform overlooks the San Dieguito Lagoon, River and surrounding wetlands. The bridge, built during World War II using local materials, originally provided access to 80 acres of land across the river used by the Navy to accommodate aircraft known as "Blimps." The blimps refueled at Del Mar and conducted anti-submarine patrols along the coast up to 100 miles offshore.
Although slated for demolition in 2000, the Friends of the San Dieguito River Park Valley spoke up about the bridge's charm and elegance and convinced the San Dieguito River Valley JPA to retain a portion of the bridge as a viewing platform.
A grant procured by County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price paid for plans to transform the bridge into a viewing platform. A committee involving the JPA, the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, the Del Mar Lagoon Committee and a neighborhood representative developed guidelines for the project. Don Coordt, a Del Mar architect, designed plans for the modification and a site plan for the approaches.
Southern California Edison, obligated to restore the lagoon as mitigation for its improvements to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, volunteered to complete the bridge modifications, which included shortening its length, raising the side rails to meet County safety standards and repairing badly damaged pilings. To maintain its weathered appearance Del Mar Rotary Club members stained new wood boards needed for the restoration.
From the viewing platform, nature lovers can see the restored wetlands and the many birds that nest there. Informational signs describing the bridge's history, the restoration project, and a beautifully painted illustration by Alice Goodkind depicting the various bird species all add to the experience of being on the old Grand Avenue Bridge and enjoying the incredible surroundings. Bravo!