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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rail bridge that serves as gateway to famed Trestles Beach completed

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San Mateo Creek Bridge San Mateo Creek Bridge SANDAG

The completion of the nearly $8 million San Mateo Creek Bridge, gateway to California's Trestles Beach and its famous surf break, was formally marked on Monday as a northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner made its way across the new bridge.

The original 858-foot wooden post-and-beam bridge was built in 1941 and required frequent and expensive maintenance to counteract the effects of age, fire damage and corrosion. The bridge's current owner, 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 bridge replacement construction project began in fall of 2010 and was paid for with $8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. 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.

Approximately 43 passenger and freight trains cross the bridge in a given day. Because of the condition of the aging bridge, trains were required to cross slowly to reduce vibration and wear and tear. Amtrak, Metrolink and BNSF trains all use the tracks and rail traffic is expected to double in the coming years, jumping to 60 trains a day, seven days a week, by 2030.

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.

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