The Coast News Group
Several municipalities, including Del Mar, Solana Beach and Escondido, participate in the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, an agency that operates parkland throughout North County. Courtesy photo
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New trail bridge planned near Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar

DEL MAR — The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, an agency that establishes and operates parkland, recently received a state grant to close a gap in the Coast to Crest Trail with a new bridge in Rancho Santa Fe.

“The purpose of this project is to provide a dedicated bridge for pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians to safely cross the San Dieguito River,” according to a 2015 project feasibility study. The project would allow “users unbroken access through this segment of the trail,” joining other segments extending in total from Del Mar to Julian.

The nearly $1.4 million grant from the California Natural Resources Agency will fund regulatory review, design and construction in the Osuna Valley — just east of Del Mar and Solana Beach, near the Morgan Run Golf Club and Resort.

The Joint Powers Authority receives funding from municipal governments party to the agreement. It’s governed by a cross-section of countywide municipal officials, including Councilman Dwight Worden (Del Mar), Councilwoman Kelly Harless (Solana Beach) and Councilwoman Tina Inscoe (Escondido).

“No decisions have been made yet on the exact location,” Shawna Anderson, the Authority’s executive director, told The Coast News. “The final location and design of the bridge and trail connection will be determined through the planning and environmental process.”

Anderson said she expects project planning and design to begin by spring and construction by 2023.

The feasibility study evaluated four alternatives: (1) a 150-foot bridge located on property owned by the City of San Diego; (2) a 166-foot bridge located on private property; (3) a 115-foot bridge, plus a secondary 30-foot span over a smaller tributary, located on private property; and (4) no bridge, but rather “a low-flow crossing of the river,” which “would be flooded on a regular basis” and “may also require access and construction within sensitive wetlands.”

The agency will go forward with some version of the first alternative, which the authors of the feasibility study favored.

“We’ve eliminated [the second and third alternatives] because we don’t have legal access on that property,” Anderson said. “We studied [them] with the property owner’s consent but in the end did not receive permission to continue considering those locations.”

The study authors recommended a prefabricated steel truss bridge, as opposed to a pre-cast concrete option.

“[The steel] bridge-type provides a clean finished look and is a common superstructure type for pedestrian bridges,” according to the study. “It helps to minimize impacts to the environment by eliminating the use of temporary falsework across the San Dieguito River that is required for cast-in-place concrete construction. … Decorative pylons or pilasters may also be used at the bridge entrances to enhance the aesthetics.”