Suzi Resnik | Crest Road
This article is the second in a series based on the Del Mar Historical Society’s project “Del Mar Voices,” the recording of the oral histories of community leaders. This summer the DMHS received a grant from the City of Del Mar to move forward and expand the project’s scope.
Our seaside paradise, Del Mar, would not exist as it is today without the collective action of concerned local citizens over the years. This article shares the remembrances quoted from the Del Mar Historical Society’s oral history of Pat Welsh, oral recollections recently contributed by Susie Good Stevenson, and descriptions contained in Del Mar Looking Back by Nancy Hanks Ewing.
ARRIVAL OF THE FREEWAY
After World War II the stretch of road between Del Mar and the North County Line, Highway 101, was called “Slaughter Alley.” Described as “the bloodiest highway in the state,” an average of one person a week was killed in the stretch. Approximately 30,000 cars a day rode through Del Mar at that time. An estimated 75,000 trucks and 40,000 tractor trailers crossed the United States Mexican border in one year. Most came from Los Angeles or north, which meant that they had to go through Del Mar to get to the border.
Susie Good Stevenson recalls hearing the frequent crashes near the El Adobe Motel on the highway, now called Camino Del Mar. The motel was situated where Coast Boulevard intersects Camino del Mar.
Her father, Larry Good, would jump out of bed, put on his clothes, grab a flashlight and run for a few blocks to go to the scene of the accidents and help the victims, often reaching out for others to assist him.
Pat Welsh recalls that it was a three lane road and people were putting up little crosses by the side of the road to get people to do something. The reply from Sacramento was: ”If you want to do something about this, let us build a freeway. We’ve been trying to for years.”
Although everyone agreed that a freeway was essential, according to Del Mar Looking Back no one in North
County was ready to accept the freeway route announced in 1947 by E.E. Wallace, state highway engineer for this district.
His plan was called “The Wallace Route” and would have widened the 101 to eight lanes along the coast. It would have wiped out businesses on the east side of the highway and “brought thundering traffic through the village.”
Angry residents of North County came up with “an army” called “The Highway Protective Association.” Del Mar sent Rosemary Kiefer, and William Thompson to join. These so-called warriors saved the day and helped to win the battle against this plan.
But the war had not been won. The state came up with an alternate plan which would have meant constructing a freeway right on the beach. It would have meant that I-5 would be on 1.7 miles of Del Mar beach from 17th Street all the way to Torrey Pines Beach.
Pat Welsh recalls that her husband Lou Welsh and Colonel Waldron Cheney, a retired Army officer, kept fighting the freeway battle and did this for 10 years until the state authorities gave in.
They finally built the freeway inland, where it now exists, much to the relief of north county coastal residents, including Del Marians. It officially opened in 1966.