Cabrillo Bridge Repairs and Seismic Retrofit

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

The Cabrillo Bridge was originally built for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The bridge remains one of the city’s most beloved and recognizable landmarks. The 916 foot span was designed and engineered by Frank P. Allen, Jr. under the direction of architect Bertram G. Goodhue. Over the years, vines had grown over the structure, concealing much of its surface and causing damage to the concrete. In 2003, pieces of concrete were found on the freeway and walking paths below, triggering urgent repairs.

Restoration work included removing staining and graffiti while being careful not to destroy the 90-year old patina of the bridge. Over 5,000 square feet of concrete patching involved careful removal of deteriorated areas while saving and recoating existing reinforcing. Over 25,000 new stainless-steel pins were inserted as part of the repairs.

Several years later, Heritage was the architect for the bridge’s seismic retrofit. All new structure was confined to the hollow interior. Custom tinted mortar was used to replace the affected concrete. The new patches simulated the historic board-formed appearance. New ornamental LED floodlights were installed as part of the project to reveal the bridge’s beauty at night. After several years of planning and construction, this San Diego icon was brought back to its historic glory, with all work complying with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

  • Caltrans
    • Restoration Specifications
    • Construction Observation
    • Historical Monitoring
  • 2005–2015
    • ♢California Preservation Foundation Design Award
    • ♢Highway Project of the Year San Diego
    • ♢Historical Resources Board Award
    • ♢SOHO People in Preservation
    • ♢Bridging the Past Award American Public Works Association (SD Chapter)