DEL MAR — Plans to build a 6-foot wide prefabricated bridge to reconnect a portion of the Coast-to-Crest Trail washed away by heavy rains early this year have changed.
At the Dec. 13 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors meeting, senior environmental planner Dustin Fuller said a new option is to use soil from the south overflow lot restoration project to shore up the bank along the San Dieguito River that eroded and took out about 75 feet of the trail during a Jan. 7 storm.
The collapsed bank is west El Camino Real, adjacent to Del Mar Horsepark, which is owned by the 22nd DAA, which governs the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, which presented the bridge alternative at the October 22nd DAA meeting, sought to repair the damage.
But a California Coastal Commission permit issued to the 22nd DAA prohibits “future channelization” such as berms, riprap, walls “or other substantial alteration … constructed to protect the development from flooding or erosion.”
Director David Watson, a land use attorney who was not at the October meeting, said at the November meeting that he didn’t support the bridge option.
The 22nd DAA is currently restoring back to wetlands a lot south of the fairgrounds on Jimmy Durante Boulevard that was used for overflow parking during the summer fair and thoroughbred horse races.
Fuller said the plan is to use about 250 cubic yards of the approximately 30,000 cubic yards being removed.
He has asked that that amount of “good, clean soil” be held onsite until decisions are made.
He said he has spoken to many of the stakeholders, including the California Coastal Commission, which didn’t oppose or support the proposal.
Fuller said commission staff noted, however, that there is precedent. Some of the dirt was used on the buffer south of the golf driving range at the south end of the east overflow lot.
Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers indicated it could issue an emergency permit for the work. The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy has pledged support.
“I hope the various agencies that are involved in all of this will come up with a reasonable and viable fix,” Peter Shapiro, SDRVC president, said.
“This is a very, very important section of the trail to make the connection eventually between here and Del Mar and all the way through to the other side of Lake Hodges,” he added. “We encourage any viable fix that will work and we’re here to help support that.”
“So it’s looking good that we could potentially do this,” Fuller said. “But I have no approvals (or permits) at this point.”
He said willow mats and plantings will be added to help secure the bank.
“I don’t know that it would prevent a failure in the future,” Fuller said. “That whole area is prone. I couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again there or along Horsepark.”
The cost has not yet been determined. The conservancy pledged $19,380 to pay for a soil study for the $90,000 bridge project.
Trish Boaz, SDRVC executive director, said those funds were earmarked for the soil study so board approval would be needed to redirect them.
“But the board fully supports a quick resolution to this problem,” she said.