Changes at Trestles beach

Trestles gained its name and world class surf breaks because of its proximity to the surf. (Oliver Yu)

Tim White

Much to the dismay of local surfers, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is taking bids for the project of replacing the wooden railroad bridge at Trestles beach with a modern concrete version.

“Access to surfers will be kept,” said Louise Torio of SANDAG.
Known internally as bridge 207.6, it has spanned the San Mateo creek on the north end of the beach since its construction in 1941 and sees heavy traffic from Metrolink commuter trains traveling between Orange County and San Diego.

“The wooden trestles are what make the place,” said Adam Van Such, 18, fire science.

The bridge has become an iconic marker or the beach’s world-renowned breaks and serves as a relic to past generations of surfers, decorated with decades of overlapped graffiti.  Last weekend marked Trestles’ annual competition for the Association of Surfing Professionals.

“[The bridge is] Trestles.  It’s iconic,” said Clark Fuller, 30, San Clemente,

“It shouldn’t be torn [down].  Real bummer.”

The Project is scheduled to commence sometime in late October or early November of this year, and consists of replacing 40 timber supports, the decking and track materials.  The projected budget nearly $9.6 million and is expected to be finished without interruption of rail service.

“It’s a problem if they mess with the environment,” said Janae Dietz, 24, San Diego

The Surfrider foundation is working alongside the state parks to make sure that beach access is maintained and that the construction will not affect the legendary breaks, according to Mark Rauscher, assistant Environment director at Surfrider.  They are also working to improve the environmental standards at the beach.

“I’m sure that they have a good reason [to replace the bridge], be it structural, monetary or a combination of both, ” said Mark McElroy, Saddleback’s head football coach and surfing instructor, “But I’m one for the organic integrity of the architecture to be maintained.”

The timber spans of the current bridge have rotten past the point of repair, posing safety concerns and necessitating the replacement.

A section of the bridge was already replaced in 1998 after being damaged during the el Niño storms of that time period.