February 2012 home page

Little Del Mar, Big Projects


Sorrento Crossing (aka Torrey Pines Bridge)
Larry Brooks | 9th Street


North Torrey Pines Bridge. Courtesy City of Del Mar.

In 1909, Colonel Ed Fletcher wanted to build a road connecting Del Mar with La Jolla. He enlisted the financial backing of E. W. Scripps, newspaper publisher, and the South Coast Land Company, developer of the present Del Mar. This 18-foot wide, concrete road was completed in March 1915 and deeded to the County of San Diego the next year.

The new road followed the path of the present Camino Del Mar south to about the Carmel Valley light. From there it turned left, descended the mesa to the valley floor, and passed under the newly re-aligned railroad track. This underpass is today the entrance to Torrey Pines State Beach parking area. Then, it crossed Los Peñasquitos on a wooden trestle and proceeded up the Torrey Pines mesa on what is now the road up to the Visitors’ Center.

The narrow underpass (and the very sharp curve just before it) proved not to be up to the increased traffic and faster automobiles. The California Highway Commission developed plans to improve the road, including the present-day route up the Torrey Pines mesa, a new bridge over Los Peñasquitos, and a bridge over the railroad track. This latter bridge is officially called the Sorrento Crossing and is popularly referred to as the Torrey Pines Bridge.

Sorrento Crossing was designed by M. J. Dwyer, an Assistant Bridge Design Engineer in the California Division of Highways from 1929-32. This was a challenging design because of the height and length of the bridge, the slope of road, and the curving railroad right-of-way. On July 21, 1932, a contract for construction was awarded to Byerts and Dunn with an estimated cost of $58,000. It was completed in 1933 as a part of the new California Route 2 (it was not U.S. Route 101 until after WWII). The new highway from Torrey Pines mesa to Del Mar was known as the Sorrento Highway, a part of the “Million Dollar Gateway” to San Diego.

Sorrento Crossing remained pretty much as built with only repairs to the railings from automobile collisions and additional layers of pavement. With the completion of I-5 in 1966, U.S. Route 101 was relinquished to local governments with Sorrento Crossing being co-owned by San Diego and Del Mar. In 2006, Del Mar acquired full ownership of Sorrento Crossing and pursued plans to bring the bridge into compliance with California seismic requirements.



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