A decades-old local urban legend claims the center span of the Coronado bridge was engineered to float in the event of collapse, allowing Naval ships to push the debris and clear the bay. The construction of the 1,880-foot-long center span as a hollow box of steel-reinforced concrete may have contributed to the development of the myth, but Caltrans and the bridge’s principal architect, Robert Mosher, maintain that the legend is false.


  • Principal architect: Robert Mosher
  • Opened on August 3, 1969
  • In 1970, it won the Most Beautiful Bridge Award from American Institute of Steel Construction
  • 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi) long
  • cost $50 million to build
  • retrofitting cost $70–150 million
  • 20,000 tons of steel (13,000 tons in structural steel and 7,000 in reinforcing steel)
  • 94,000 cubic yards of concrete
  • 900,000 cubic yards of dredged fill
  • some caissons for the towers were drilled and blasted 100 feet into the bed of the San Diego Bay
  • 4.67% grade from Coronado to San Diego
  • side railings are concrete blocks only 34 inches high

Over 50 people worked to maintain the bridge and take tolls; tolls have since been discontinued.

The grade, 200 foot clearance at peak, and the 90-degree angle turn is to create clearance for an empty oil-fired aircraft carrier to pass beneath it – it is not sufficient for Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carriers.

The bridge is the third largest orthogonal box in the country – the box is the center part of the bridge, between piers 18 and 21 over the main shipping channel.



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