February 2019 home page

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A Bridge Too Far
Don Mosier | Rimini Road

The 101 Bridge.
Photo Courtesy City of Del Mar.
Click to enlarge.

The City of Del Mar introduced a project to replace the failing 85-year old Camino del Mar Bridge over the San Dieguito River at a public meeting held on January 10th. The project is in the first phase of a multi-phase process beginning with environmental review and construction alternatives analysis, and construction is not expected to begin until 2023. The new bridge will accommodate one lane in each direction and bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. The existing bridge is supported by 10 piers; the replacement will have six, reducing the footprint on the environmentally-fragile wetland and improving the flow of the river. Construction costs are estimated at $25-28 million, with 90% provided by federal grants.

The public was asked to weigh in on two alternatives for construction. One was to maintain one lane open in each direction during construction, which would take 24-27 months to construct. (The shorter 24-month time frame would use precast concrete beams; the longer would use poured in place concrete). The second option would cut the construction time in half, but it would involve closing the bridge during construction. This option raised concerns about emergency access as well as traffic congestion during fair events since more traffic would be diverted to Jimmy Durante. Parking immediately north and south of the bridge would be lost to construction staging with either option.

One issue that raised concern was the elevation of the new bridge. The proposed design increases the elevation 2-3 feet at the south end of the bridge and less than a foot at the north end of the 600-foot span. With a projected lifetime of 100 years, the bridge may have to withstand sea level rise of up to 6 feet by 2120 according to the most recent models. The engineers explained that the bridge would be strong enough to withstand occasional flooding, but the proposed elevation stands in marked contrast to the plans for the new railway bridge 100 yards to the east, where the bridge elevation is to be raised 8 feet. The city engineer stated that the plan for the Camino Del Mar bridge conforms to current CalTrans guidelines, which begs the question of whether these guidelines need to be updated.

There will be several more opportunities for public comment as the planning process continues.

Updates on city website:



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