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The 50-year-old Tijuana River Bridge has been crossed by hundreds of thousands of pedestrians over the years. The structure replaced a wooden bridge, which had undergone several incarnations since the 1920s and was used for both vehicular traffic and pedestrian crossings. At one time, the bridge was referred to as “La Marimba” because of the mellifluous tones that were sounded as Model-As bounced their tires across the wood-plank span.

The most recent incarnation of the bridge, reserved exclusively for foot-traffic, was built as a steel-reinforced span of rebar and concrete, sporting two police guard towers at either end of the crossing. Anyone crossing the bridge is aware of its dilapidated condition, as the concrete has disintegrated and fallen away in some spots, revealing the rebar network below the surface. Warping has occurred over the decades as well, probably from seismic activity, and is evident in the deformation and misalignment of the bridge railings; and there’s some significant cracking along the concrete walls.

A couple of months back, workers put up some steel-reinforcement columns. Recently, workers began to reinforce and refurbish the entire structure. About a furlong south of the old span arises the newly constructed and soon-to-be-opened auto bridge, which makes no allowance for pedestrian traffic, so the old bridge once known as “Puente Mexico” and not so very long ago was the only bridge to cross the unpredictable and flood-prone Tijuana River (linking up Colonia Libertad with downtown Centro TJ and the Zona Norte) will continue in its stead as the quickest way to get to TJ on foot.

Most of the labor is being done with mallets and chisels. About 20 construction workers have been employed on the project of late. Infrastructure projects have been a key element of Mexico’s strategy for warding off the effects of the international economic crisis.

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