The completion of the nearly $8 million San Mateo Creek Bridge, gateway to Trestles Beach and its famous surf break, was formally marked May 14, 2012, as the northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner No. 769 trundled by on the new bridge.
Elected officials, longboard surfers, and Woodie car owners many attired in Hawaiian shirts -- gathered in the sand below as the 500-ton train passed over the new concrete trestle bridge etched with the name of the beach: T-R-E-S-T-L-E-S.
This project will help to ensure that we keep passengers and goods moving safely along the LOSSAN Coastal Rail Corridor the second busiest passenger rail corridor in the nation, noted Jerome Stocks, Chairman of the SANDAG Board of Directors and Mayor of Encinitas. In his youth, Stocks surfed Trestles regularly.
North County Transit District purchased the tracks in the northwestern-most corner of San Diego County in 1992 from the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The aging 858-foot wooden post-and-beam bridge -- built in 1941 and officially known as the San Mateo Creek Bridge required frequent and expensive maintenance to counteract the effects of age, fire damage, and corrosion.
Approximately 43 passenger and freight trains cross the bridge in a given day. Because of the condition of the trestles, trains were required to cross slowly to reduce vibration and wear and tear.
The bridge is part of the LOSSAN corridor, which stretches 351 miles from San Luis Obispo, through Los Angeles and Orange County to downtown San Diego. Each year, more than 2.7 million intercity passengers and 4.5 million commuter rail passengers travel the LOSSAN corridor. Those numbers will be increasing as millions of dollars in LOSSAN corridor rail improvements including extensive double-tracking are completed in the years ahead.
The bridge replacement construction project paid for with $8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds began in fall, 2010. The new bridge replaced the northern 558 feet of the wooden trestles. Workers built the steel reinforced concrete trestles right under the tracks and, once all were in place, shut down the tracks to rebuild the rail bed. The project was completed six months ahead of schedule and 5.5 percent under budget.
The tracks are used by Amtrak and Metrolink trains and the freight haulers of the BNSF Railway. Rail traffic is expected to double in the coming years, jumping to 60 trains a day, seven days a week, by 2030.
Photo Credit: Brett Shoaf