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Inside the Icon: San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

There’s always water under this award-winning bridge, which has served as a welcome sight for returning sailors since 1969.


Published:

Photo by: Schmidiger Cornelia

Visit the Icon

On I-5 South, take exit 14A for CA-75 toward Coronado

The Long and Short of it

Construction of the 2.12-mile bridge, which forms a 90-degree arch over San Diego Bay, took just two and a half years and cost $47.6 million, financed by a California Toll Bridge Authority bond. 

46 years and counting

Construction began in February 1967 and the landmark opened on August 3, 1969, in conjunction with the celebration of San Diego’s bicentennial.

Cars only

Pedestrians and bicyclists are prohibited from crossing the bridge, except for during popular race events, including the Navy’s Bay Bridge Run Walk and Bike the Bay.

State property

The bridge is operated and maintained by the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS). 

By the Numbers

CALTRANS provides traffic volume information to the City of Coronado by the hour. In May, an average weekday total of 79,405 cars crossed the bridge; the average weekend total was 59,825. 

Peak hours

The busiest northbound hour is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, averaging 4,176 cars; the peak southbound hour is from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., with an average of 3,780 vehicles.

Stuck in the middle

In 1993, a moveable median was added to help prevent head-on collisions and manage traffic. Special CALTRANS vehicles move each 1,400-pound segment of the barrier twice a day to change the configuration of the five-lane bridge to accommodate peak traffic volumes. 

Historic Design

Built to accommodate the passage of the tallest Navy ships, the design of the bridge dates back to World War II Germany and the construction of battleships; it features a 200-foot vertical clearance. 

Caution!

Unobstructed views of downtown, courtesy of the slight 34-inch railings, come with a price: The bridge is ranked third for suicides in the United States, after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Seattle’s Aurora Bridge, with more than 250 since 1969. 

Bike Under the belly

A study is currently underway to determine the feasibility of adding a bike and pedestrian “tube” hanging below the bridge. For now, you can cycle on a path underneath it (in Coronado). Look up, and you’ll feel small!

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