Coast Walk Trail bridge reopens, as City completes bypass project in La Jolla

The Coast Walk Trail Bridge is once again open for public access, while City crews work on the bypass project that has been in the works for more than a year. Crews started construction on the re-route in late June, and work will be complete in the coming days. The finishing touches may be carried out in the weeks that follow.

The City work involves re-routing the trail that leads to the bridge by constructing stairs up the slope to the new trail alignment, beginning at the north end of the existing bridge. In the early stages of work, orange netting was set up with posts to delineate the new access point and discourage use of the now-closed path.

Construction also includes new wood stairs connecting the east end of the trail to Coast Walk. Some of the lemonade berry plant and non-native ornamental vegetation above the existing and unsupported pedestrian bridge will be removed to accommodate the bypass. The vegetation is now being used to infill the areas where pedestrian access is prohibited. The bridge is part of the third-mile-long Coast Walk Trail, with ingress/egress points on Coast Walk at Torrey Pines Road and Coast Boulevard near The Cove.

The bridge at Coast Walk Trail was closed in February 2017 due to erosion near one of the footings. The bridge itself is structurally sound, but the unstable footing prompted the closure.

Soon after, signs were posted on both sides of the bridge prohibiting access, and additionally, caution tape and A-frame barricades are on site to indicate particular problem areas. However, hikers either moved the signs or moved around them to use the bridge despite the warnings.

Following the closure, the City announced a “quick fix” plan to re-route the footpath leading to the bridge that avoids the problematic area and leaves the bridge intact. None of the present structures (including handrails and trail staircases) would be removed or impacted.

A City memo about the project, released in November 2017, states: “The Department of Park & Recreation will construct trail surface improvements, such as clearing vegetation and construction of trail surfaces. It is anticipated that the work will take one to two work days” and that “Facilities Divisions’ Operations and Maintenance crew would construct the landing and staircase for the trail improvements over four working days.” The pricetag has not been announced.

The bridge was built to its current configuration in 1932 (it’s unknown when it was originally built) and reinforced in the early 1990s.

Project officer James Arnhart told the La Jolla Community Planning Association in February 2018, there were no immediate plans to do anything further with the bridge. “There may be a future CIP project (to rebuild the bridge), but for now, all we’re trying to do is realign the trail to allow for existing use and protect public safety,” he said.

Brenda Fake, president of Friends of Coast Walk, has been monitoring the work and communicating with the City as this project has progressed.

“The City has been great to work with and really listened to how things should have gone,” she said. “I’m beyond happy with how the City has communicated with us. Multiple departments were involved and they worked together including community groups such as La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group and Friends of Coast Walk. It feels great that it has all come together.”

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