Trestles pulled down. No, not those Trestles.

Better tidal low for San Elijo Lagoon

Only two other old wooden train bridges are left in North County.
  • Only two other old wooden train bridges are left in North County.

A longtime beach fixture in Cardiff by the Sea is coming down after 80 years of use. The old wooden train trestle bridge over the San Elijo Lagoon, behind Restaurant Row, started to be dismantled on September 27.

First train to cross new San Elijo bridge

Sept. 10, 2018 – Cardiff

Sept. 10, 2018 – Cardiff

The last train to roll across the old bridge was on September 9. A new double-tracked concrete bridge has now replaced the iconic wooden structure.

“The replacement of the aging wooden trestle bridge was necessary in order to meet future capacity increases," wrote Eric Sawyer for the North County Transit District.

The new bridge’s design is longer, and more open, than the old trestle bridge. The lagoon’s watchdog group, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, says the project will provide better lagoon health by allowing for increased tidal flow under the bridge.

“I will miss the old trestles,” posted Morgan Mallory, on an old school Encinitas Facebook page. He said he and his buddies used to take their kayaks under the bridge, docking in back of the old Windjammer Restaurant, and impress the ladies that they came by boat. Eric Simpson posted, “They are aesthetically pleasing, but very bad for the health of the lagoon. Good riddance.”

The $76.8 million project will add almost two miles new double track through Cardiff to the south end of the lagoon, and improve signal and grade crossings at Chesterfield Drive. The project should be completed by Spring 2019.

The double tracking project is part of the 20-year-long Southern California double tracking project known as LOSSAN, expanding the 351 miles of train tracks for San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

Currently up to 50 trains travel daily through the San Diego coastal rail corridor. It expected that 100 trains a day would serve future Amtrak, Coaster, and freight services, once the double tracking project is compete.

NCTD expects it to take two weeks to remove the old bridge. “Nearby residents can expect intermittent noise, lights, and dust from these construction activities,” stated Sawyer.

Only two other old wooden train bridges are left in North County; one crosses over the San Dieguito River at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The other, the “Trestles” bridge, which gave the name to the historic surf spot at San Onofre.

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That structure was picturesque in a way, but certainly didn't come up to the standards of a busy rail line carrying close-to-capacity traffic. I won't miss seeing that early 20th century type of railroad construction in Cardiff. What I do miss is that old truss steel bridge over the Santa Margarita River in Camp Pendleton. It had some character, yet was ripped out to put in a double-track replacement a few years ago. And it wasn't preserved in place or anywhere else.

I recall that a Marine was killed there...late 1900's Santa Margarita Bridge...I was a manager at Amtrak then.

I know the new change is appropriate. I also know I will miss it. Our lagoon is a community treasure and needs to be preserved and the change will help.

A big thanks go out to the San Elijo Lagoon Concervency for its noble stewardship. Wanna see some pics of the process, the new bridge and the old bridge? Instagram: #savetrestles92007

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