Replacement of Del Mar bridge delayed


Construction of a replacement for the 86-year-old Highway 101 bridge over the San Dieguito River in Del Mar has been pushed back and is now expected to start in 2023.

City officials said last year that the work could begin as early as 2020, but that target proved overly optimistic.

“The planning phase, including environmental reviews, has been taking longer than originally anticipated,” Deputy Public Works Director Mohsen Maalik said by email Thursday.

“There are many agencies with jurisdiction over the project,” Maalik said. “We need their approval.”

The 600-foot-long bridge at Del Mar’s Dog Beach was built in 1932 and widened in 1952. Despite an upgrade in 2000 and periodic maintenance, officials say that, while the bridge remains safe, it is corroded, vulnerable to earthquakes, and impedes the flow of water beneath it.

A preliminary design calls for the new bridge to be supported by six piers instead of the 10 piers now used. Fewer piers will give the structure less of a footprint in the river bed, which improves the flow of water and has fewer negative effects on the environment.

The new bridge also will be a little higher with a thinner deck than the existing one, leaving more room for water to flow underneath during high tides and when the river rises with storm run-off.

Other than that, the bridge will be similar to the old one, Maalik said. The bridge will be slightly longer and narrower, with a 7-foot center median, one lane in each direction for vehicles, and separate lanes for bicycles and pedestrians on each side.

Anyone interested in the project can ask questions and offer comments at a community meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Del Mar Civic Center.

"The designs being used at this stage are preliminary, and we are looking forward to hearing feedback from all stakeholders during our outreach efforts,” City Manager Scott Huth said Wednesday.

More information about the project is on the city website at

The Del Mar City Council awarded a $1.2 million contract early last year to Kleinfelder Inc. to begin engineering and environmental studies for the new bridge on Camino del Mar, as the 101 is known in Del Mar.

Construction is expected to take at least two years and cost $25 million to $28 million. Periodic temporary lane closures are expected during the work. Also, parking in the area will be limited during the work.

Most of the money is expected to come from federal funding, with about $3 million in local matching funds. Any artistic features added to the structure would not be eligible for federal money.

The bridge is near the northern entrance to Del Mar.

The Highway 101 span at the city’s southern entrance, the North Torrey Pines Bridge built in 1933, had its deck replaced in 2013 in a seismic upgrade that cost about $13.5 million.

Oceanside plans to replace an even older bridge, the Coast Highway span at the San Luis Rey River, which was built in 1929.

--Phil Diehl is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune