November 2009 home page


Reduced Torrey Pines Bridge Costs
Crystal Crawford | Del Mar Mayor

North Torrey Pines Bridge.  Courtesy City of Del Mar.


The North Torrey Pines bridge is one of Del Mar's treasures and is one of the few remaining examples of coastal cast concrete bridges in California. The existing bridge, officially the Sorrento Overhead (Historic Name), was designed by M. J. Dwyer, California Division of the Highway Bridge Department, and constructed under contract by Byerts and Dunn in 1932-33. A. S. Kennedy was the resident engineer for project.
The reinforced concrete girder bridge is 553 feet long and 49 feet wide and rises six stories above the Penasquitos Preserve. Years ago when the City learned that the bridge might be torn down and replaced, the City moved to protect it by designating the bridge as a Historic Landmark in 1996. Subsequently, the State Office of Historic Preservation deemed the Bridge eligible for the National Register. In 2000, the City accepted the right-of way for the entire bridge structure from the City of San Diego.

This nationally recognized historic structure is soon to undergo significant renovation and restorations protecting it from earthquakes and preserving it for at least another 50 years. The project includes replacing the entire top deck of the bridge through a number of construction stages. Except for a few nighttime closures, the bridge will remain open to two way vehicular and bicycle traffic during construction. After the retrofit is completed, the bridge will mirror what you see today with the same width and lane configuration. All repairs will maintain the existing character and historic look. The project has completed extensive federal and state environmental reviews, and construction must minimize impacts to the surrounding habitat and minimize noise affecting nearby wildlife and nearby residents.

Costs for the construction portion of the seismic retrofit are estimated at $33.2 million and will be 100% funded through State Proposition 1B (11.47%) and the Federal Highway Administration (88.53%). In September, the City Council authorized the plans for the project including a process where the State will advance the expected large contract payments for the project in order to avoid a strain on the City’s finances.

Currently, the City is engaged in the selection of a construction management and inspection team for the project and the contract for this portion of the project will likely be presented for City Council approval in January. Construction bids will be sought in the spring of 2010, and the project will break ground in late summer of 2010. The many Council members, past and present, who have worked to make this challenging but worthwhile project possible will be invited to turn a shovelful of dirt!


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