North Torrey Pines Bridge - a Del Mar treasure


By David Druker

Mayor of Del Mar

The North Torrey Pines bridge is one of Del Mar’s treasures and is one of the few remaining examples of cast concrete bridges in California. To say the least this is not a “bridge to nowhere.”

The bridge is on the very southerly end of the city and its beauty can be best appreciated from below. There has been a very lengthy process undertaken to strengthen and protect the bridge. While the bridge is in both the city of Del Mar and the city of San Diego, Del Mar has title to the entire bridge. Therefore, Del Mar is taking the lead in preserving and strengthening this historic structure.

A very complex structural analysis has been done to determine the best approach to preserve the historic character of the bridge. The seismic retrofit includes replacing the entire top deck of the bridge through a number of stages of construction. The replacement deck will be the same width and lane configuration as the existing bridge. Bearings will be added between the columns and the deck to allow the columns to move independently from the deck during a seismic event thus protecting both. The columns of the bridge will be strengthened is some areas and repairs will be made where loose concrete exists. All repairs will be made such that the existing character is maintained (historical look of the board formed concrete finish). The embankment soils and abutments of the bridge will be stabilized.

Because the railroad passes under the bridge, the construction staging and constraints are quite extensive. There are also numerous constraints that will be placed on the contractor that is selected to perform the work to minimize impacts to the habitat in the area and minimize noise impacts to the wildlife and nearby residents.

Currently, it is projected that the construction project will be 100 percent funded with a combination of federal and state funding from the Statewide Bond Measure Prop 1B passed in 2006.

The city contracted with Simon Wong Engineering who put together a team that included experts in geology, corrosion and environmental processing. The project design is also being carefully reviewed by both Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration. Because the project is on the priority list of seismic projects and the technical analysis is so complex, the scrutiny has been extensive.

The project is currently undergoing a number of environmental reviews. It has to go through National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) approval, which is the federal environmental process. Caltrans is taking the lead on the NEPA process. One part of that approval process is a finding for impacts to the Torrey Pines State Beach. That process is currently underway and the public can review the information on the City’s Web site:


The city of Del Mar is the California Environmental Quality Act lead agency and will be publishing a mitigated negative declaration (MND) in a few weeks. Recently, the council took action to grant an exemption to our noise ordinance for some night work associated with the project. That action is part of completing the MND for the project.

I encourage the public to review the current and future environmental documents. In mid-November, the Council will be certifying the MND and final design will proceed. It is anticipated that construction could begin by the end of 2009.