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Encinitas to begin repairs of San Elijo bridge this fall
A sinkhole on the San Elijo bridge is expected to expand unless repairs are made. Photo by Desi Drew Photography
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Encinitas to begin San Elijo bridge repairs this fall

ENCINITAS — The city will begin repairs to the San Elijo bridge this fall.

The Encinitas City Council swiftly passed its two-item agenda on Aug. 17 that included a contract with Shaw Equipment Rentals for $248,051, plus a $74,000 contingency for abutment backfill repair work of the San Elijo bridge.

The bridge, originally installed in 1934, spans the mouth of San Elijo Lagoon in Cardiff. The bridge was first constructed at 183 feet long and 40 feet wide, and later widened to 215 feet in length and 71 feet wide in 1953. Over the years, the bridge, connecting cars, bicycles and pedestrians from south Cardiff to Solana Beach via South Coast Highway 101, has undergone intermittent repairs, however, in the last few years it’s posed some serious issues.

Two years ago, a pavement failure occurred leaving a substantial portion of a north end support exposed, according to city staff. In 2019, the city performed emergency repairs to a portion of concrete on the underside of the bridge. The following year, the city found a 3-foot void present under the broken pavement.

“If this repair is not done, the sinkhole will continue to grow as more backfill washes out from behind the abutment,” city engineers wrote in a report. “Deferral of this work would likely have multi-modal impacts to circulation, impacting the bike lane and vehicular lane.”

Repairs are anticipated to begin in the fall with a winter completion time. The scope of work includes installation of new backfill, crack and pavement repair, sealing on the abutment and guardrail replacement.

A bridge abutment connects the bridge’s surface to the ground at both ends of the bridge and helps support the weight of the bridge. Backfill is typically soil used to strengthen the ride’s foundation.

Oral Communications

During the meeting, the council heard from 10 members of the public about various concerns including traffic, children’s safety around cannabis and concerns with the city’s ability to fulfill public records requests.

One item of discussion, the banning of the use of tobacco within city limits, was brought before the council by local teacher and resident, Trina Priest.

The Encinitas Environmental Commission, in July, recommended the city council adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking of all tobacco products in public spaces, limiting exceptions to smoking on private property or in a moving vehicle. This move has been a trend throughout California — most recently with Vista considering an ordinance.

“As a mother and a middle school teacher, I would love to add my support to this idea,” she said. “Smoking and vaping behaviors affect everyone who is exposed. Poor health costs money and impacts the public’s health and medical resources.”

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said the public will see an item on the subject before the council in an upcoming meeting.