SAN DIEGO–Construction will begin Wednesday on the Trestles Bridge Replacement Project, which will remove the northernmost segment of the 70-year-old wood trestle railroad bridge near San Onofre State Beach and install a new structure in its place to increase safety and reliability on the nation’s second busiest rail corridor.
“Like most people who use this beautiful beach, we will be sad to see the wooden trestles taken down,” SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos said. “But decades of use, vandalism, salt air, and fires have worn down the bridge, and it has reached the end of its useful life.”
Construction crews will begin mobilizing equipment signaling the start of the project on Sept. 1. During the work, active construction areas will be fenced, but a pathway to the beach will always be maintained – allowing beach goers to pass under the bridge to San Onofre State Beach.
The project is expected to be complete by early 2012. Work will continue from September through February, at which time it will stop to accommodate the nesting season of the California Gnatcatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo. Crews will return the following September and complete the job.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $12 million. The project is being paid entirely with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Approximately 150 people will work on this project.
The bridge is on the Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo-San Diego (LOSSAN) rail corridor, the second busiest rail corridor in the United States. It is used by Amtrak, Metrolink, and BNSF freight services, with approximately 45 trains crossing the bridge every weekday. (A fully-loaded Amtrak passenger train weighs approximately 1 million pounds.) The number of trains crossing the bridge is expected to increase rapidly in coming years.
The wooden trestle, which costs approximately $250,000 a year to maintain, will remain in service during construction. Many elements of the new reinforced concrete bridge will be built with the existing structure in place. When the new bridge is nearly complete, the rail line will be shut down during several successive weekends to replace the deck of the bridge. Any remaining elements of the existing bridge will then be removed.
SANDAG, in partnership with the North County Transit District (which owns the rail corridor in the area), is overseeing the construction.