All the more reason for local residents — and the city — to stand up and take notice.
La Jolla Coast Walk Trail runs from La Jolla Shores beach to the trailhead just north of The Cave Store at La Jolla Cove. It's a popular, scenic hiking trail where people run, jog or walk their dogs along the bluffs overlooking the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park.
The trail's trademark long, switchback bridge, located east of La Jolla Cove near the trail's Coast Walk access off Torrey Pines Road, has been closed since February. That action was taken after the city discovered a crack in the eroding cliff following a rainstorm.
Authorities subsequently put up a "Danger, Cliff Erosion. Bridge Closed” sign, which many trail users are ignoring.
Brenda Fake, spokes person for a grassroots group, Friends of Coast Walk Trail, which raises funds for and does much of the the work on trail maintenance, said her neighborhood volunteer group would like to see the condition of both the trail — and the bridge — improve.
“A section of stairs from Prospect Street down to where the bridge is has been improved,” said Fake noting the trail is “technically part of a street,” while adding, “putting a road in there just is not going to happen. It's just a walking path now … more of a sidewalk.”
City spokesman Tim Graham has noted the Coast Walk Bridge has been closed “out of an abundance of caution,” adding the city “is working on a plan to restore the footings. The project will be extensive and must be accomplished in accordance with the City’s commitment to protect the coastal bluffs, while also restoring access along the trail.”
The city’s Public Works, Transportation & Storm Water and Park and Recreation Departments are working together to identify the best means of reopening the bridges. “As of today, there is no timeline set for the design of the repairs nor has funding for the project been identified,” Graham said adding the city continues to work with the Friends group “to create plans for longer-term maintenance of the trail, including the addition of native species plantings on an eroded area of the trail immediately north of the bridges.”
Fake and her neighbors have been re-envisioning what Coast Walk Trail could be.
“We want to keep it (trail) natural,” she said. “This is not about paving any of it.”
Pointing out the weathering bridge on the trail is historical, Fake acknowledged that, structurally, “the bridge itself is in good shape. The trail itself is the problem.”
Fake said, years ago, huge rock boulders, along with a heavy-duty steel plate, were used by engineers to buttress the bridge and “hold the cliffs up. It worked. And the fixes have worked for a long time.”
But this past winter, Fake said, “erosion from rains has been horrible doing major damage.”
Fake added that Coast Walk's bridge “is not going to be condemned. It has been shut down.”
The FOCW spokes woman said preserving the trail may come down to “keeping the cliffs in place,” adding “my understanding is they (city) are going to have to move the trail over a few feet, and figure out how to shore up that cliff area.”
No stranger to fundraising for trail improvements, Fake said FOCW told the city “if it comes down (trail improvements) to money, we'll help with some funding.”
But Fake added the idea would be to rehabilitate, not rebuild.
“I think that bridge could use some paint,” she said. “We'll (FOCW) do all that on our own.”
Fake said neighbors created FOCW years ago as a 501(c)3 nonprofit because the trail needed improvements. She said the neighborhood group has a Facebook page adding about 60 people donate $350 a year toward trail upkeep.
“We've been organizing and doing our thing,” Fake said adding, “But this trail has gotten to be a 'bigger than a bread box' thing, and it needs engineering. It's really a design challenge.”
The city could not be reached for further comment on the Coast Walk Bridge and trail.