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Grand Avenue overlook reopens

DEL MAR — The structure formerly known as the Grand Avenue Bridge is open once again. About 125 people, including City Council members and County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, attended a grand opening ceremony Jan. 25.
But the next day, the viewing platform on San Dieguito Road was closed to the public until improvements were made to bring the facility into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dick Bobertz,
Dick Bobertz, executive director of the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, said the January event was more of a dedication than an opening. The JPA knew at the time more work was needed, but there was no mention that the platform would be closed for another two months.
“We hoped to leave it open but there was just too much construction,” Bobertz said. A March 30 letter to the city’s principal planner deems the overlook deck “in substantial compliance with” the ADA.
The final improvements primarily involved adding benches with backs and replacing the surface because the decomposed granite originally used contained rocks too large to meet wheelchair access standards.
The bridge, located on the southwest end of the lagoon, was built in the early 1940s to provide access to a landing field for blimps used by the Navy during World War II to spot Japanese submarines.
Six or seven years ago, the bridge was slated for demolition until Jacqueline Winterer of the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley suggested transforming it into a viewing platform.
Bobertz said the JPA will manage the facility by providing regular park ranger patrols, trash removal, cleaning and maintenance.
“It was a fun project,” Bobertz said. “The community really jumped in to make it happen.” He said the platform can now be added “to the long list of beautiful public places in Del Mar.”
Fishing, which is prohibited off bridges in Del Mar, is still not allowed off the structure even though it is no longer a bridge. City Council plans to address that issue at a future meeting.