Has anyone wondered about
the old steel bridge over Sweetwater River? It runs along
side Highway 94 just to the
east of the intersection of Highway 94 and 54 at Jamacha Junction.
This is across the road from the new shopping center and where the
road is wider. This is a
bridge that goes nowhere!!
This Steele Canyon bridge
looks worn out and tired now, but at one time it stood proud and stately.
This narrow bridge stood out from the nearby willows and sage brush
on the sides of Jamacha Valley. The
steel girders form triangular patterns on the sides and top of the bridge.
This is known as a
Parker truss bridge. It is a
monument to days when bridges were suspended from graceful steel girders
instead of supported by stark concrete pilings.
This bridge was built in
1929 by Pacific Iron & Steel Co of Los Angeles.
It is a three span, Parker Truss bridge - only 22 ½ feet wide
(virtually a one way bridge for large trucks) and 460 feet long.
It is one of the remaining three truss bridges and the only Parker
Truss bridge in San Diego County. It
is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
It is the only bridge in San Diego County that used a type of
construction, popular in the early 1900’s, in which the parts were
bolted together before construction, then put into place by relatively
unskilled labor. It is
unique because the upper members of the bridge form an arch rather than
being straight. This bridge
is still used by bicyclists
and pedestrians. It is
maintained by the County as agreed upon by the Board of Supervisors. Stop sometime and walk across this bridge to look at a piece
As a long time resident
in the back country, I have driven across this bridge many times and
really slowed down when meeting a truck on the bridge. It was safe, but seemed very narrow according to today's
standards. This old bridge
was reported to have had 13 accidents in a three year span from 1980 to
1983. This is almost twice
the statewide accident average for similar bridges.
There was a curve at each end of the bridge.
The prior bridge was
washed out in the flood of 1927.
In March 1986, Caltrans
was awarded a $2.3 million contract to construct a new SR 94 bridge over
the Sweetwater River to carry the 10,000 to 20,000 (figures vary) daily
users and was completed in 1987. This
new bridge is 44 feet wide and 489 feet long.
This is a much wider and safer bridge and another improvement on
Highway 94 which has saved lives. This
is the bridge we use today.
Around the same time the
new bridge was under construction, the corner of SR 94 and SR 54 was
changed to a four lane road with wider turns.
Here is a picture prior to the changes in 1987 of the feed store
and later was a fruit market and junk yard.