First passenger train crosses new San Elijo Lagoon Rail Bridge


Just after dawn on Sept. 10, the first passenger train crossed the newly-built rail bridge over the San Elijo Lagoon.

The modern concrete bridge in Cardiff-by-the-Sea is replacing the 80-year-old wooden trestle bridge, which will be removed over the coming months. For the last 17 months, train commuters have watched the new wider bridge being built and now can check on the progress of the old timber bridge being dismantled.

“Today is a big milestone in our efforts to double track and modernize our region’s major rail corridor,” said SANDAG Board Chair and Del Mar City Councilmember Terry Sinnott. “But at the same time, we are aware of the fond feelings for the old trestle bridge, which for some people was a community icon.”

For that reason, the beams on the new concrete bridge have been decoratively stamped on both the west and east sides in order to pay tribute to the iconic overcrossing in the Encinitas community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

On the western facing side of the bridge, the beams supporting the structure of the bridge are pressed with large letters that spell Cardiff. On the eastern side, the beams feature images of the birds that frequent the lagoon.

The timber bridge was replaced because of its age and to accommodate increases in passenger and freight rail services throughout the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) corridor. The concrete replacement is part of SANDAG’s San Elijo Lagoon Double Track Project that will add nearly 1.5 miles to a larger effort to double track 94 percent of the region’s coastal rail line by 2035. The columns supporting the new bridge will also increase the tidal flow into the lagoon due to their wider spacing.

Demand for passenger and freight services is expected to double along the LOSSAN corridor by 2030. The LOSSAN corridor is the second-busiest intercity rail line in the United States.

The San Elijo Lagoon Double Track Project is being constructed as part of Build NCC, or the first phase of construction on the North Coast Corridor (NCC) Program. Construction crews are concurrently working in and around the San Elijo Lagoon to double track the rail line, build a new highway bridge, and restore the San Elijo Lagoon. Build NCC was designed as a “get-in, get-out” project to lessen long-term construction impacts on the community and environment.

For more information on project construction, go to — Submitted news release