N. Torrey Pines Bridge retrofit to begin soon


By Crystal Crawford

Mayor, Del Mar

The North Torrey Pines Bridge is one of Del Mar’s treasures and is one of the few examples of cast concrete bridges remaining along the California coast. The seismic retrofit of the bridge will be the largest capital project undertaken in the city’s history. How appropriate that we break ground on the project during the year that we are celebrating the city’s 50th anniversary!

The existing bridge, which bears the historic name of the “Sorrento Overhead,” was designed by M.J. Dwyer of the California Division of the Highway Bridge Department and constructed under contract by Byerts and Dunn in 1932 and ’33. A.S. Kennedy was the resident engineer for the project.

This railroad overhead crossing bridge was built as part of the Coast Highway, then State Route 2, between La Jolla and Del Mar.

The reinforced concrete girder bridge is 553 feet long and 49 feet wide. The bridge is deceiving in appearance: most of us just travel across the road and do not realize that the bridge is actually the length of two football fields and, rising above the Penasquitos Preserve below, is as tall as a six-story building.

The substructure consists of thirteen haunched T-beam girders of three different lengths: two 58-foot spans, two 43-foot skewed spans and nine 40-foot spans each with concrete pile bents with paired horizontal bracing or cross struts. The bridge features ornamental balustrade bridge railings and ornate soffit bracketing.

In March of 1996, the city of Del Mar adopted Ordinance No. 663, designating the North Torrey Pines Bridge (#57C-207) as a City of Del Mar Historic Landmark and including the bridge in the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. Subsequently, the State Office of Historic Preservation deemed the bridge eligible for the National Register.

On Dec. 11, 2000, the City Council adopted Resolution 2000-68, approving an agreement with the city of San Diego for the transfer of the portion lying within the San Diego city limits and accepting title to the right-of-way for the entire bridge structure.

When the City accepted the project and right-of-way to take the lead on its seismic retrofit and rehabilitation, the project was 100 percent funded by both the State and Federal Highway Administration.

Check here next week for construction plans and information about how you can get involved in the process.