The Trestles bridge that reopened after an $8-million renovation project. (San Diego Assn. of Governments )
With an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner crossing over the new Trestles bridge on Monday morning, local transportation officials marked the completion of a multimillion-dollar project to replace the storied, but worn-down, wooden structure that has served as the gateway to a San Diego County beach regarded as a birthplace of Southern California's surf culture.
The original Trestles, built in 1941, was an 858-foot stretch of wooden post-and-beam bridge. Although it remained strong, with more than 40 passenger and freight trains crossing per day, the trains were required to slow down to reduce vibration and wear and tear. The bridge also required frequent maintenance to protect against fire damage and corrosion, officials said.
The new version, officially named the San Mateo Creek Bridge, replaced 558 feet of the wooden bridge with reinforced concrete etched with its nickname.
The $8-million project was finished in less than two years — under budget and six months ahead of schedule, officials said. The bridge has been owned since 1992 by the North County Transit District.
Some of the beach's devotees weren't in favor of the change, worried that a gray, concrete structure would detract from the nostalgic feel of the surf spot, which officially opened to the public when President Nixon ordered a portion of Camp Pendleton to be handed over to California.
So revered is the beach, which itself is commonly known simply as Trestles, that a plan to build a toll road nearby was thwarted several years ago in part because it threatened the tranquillity of the area.
But Jerome Stocks, mayor of Encinitas and chairman of the San Diego Assn. of Governments' board of directors — who surfed there when he was younger — said in a statement that the renovation "will help to ensure that we keep passengers and goods moving safely" along the busy coastal rail corridor.
Traffic on the tracks used by Amtrak, Metrolink and freight haulers is expected to double in the coming years, with officials anticipating 60 trains a day, seven days a week, by 2030.