Coronado Bridge

San Diego Legacy

  • Civic
  • CA San Diego

The San Diego-Coronado Bridge is a historic and monumental icon of the City of San Diego. It is a sublime architectural expression instantly recognizable by our region’s citizens and imprinted in the memories of visitors. Its dramatic height and signature curvature unify the spirit of San Diego by connecting communities and reinforces the city’s commitment to design ingenuity, engineering accomplishment and community linkage.

Robert Mosher was commissioned as principal architect to design a bridge that met the requirements of spanning the bay to connect San Diego with Coronado while maintaining ship access to the naval shipyards. Mosher understood the challenges of function and engineering required design inventiveness and mathematical precision. In order to allow for a 60s era aircraft carrier and other large naval vessels to pass between the shipyard and the ocean, the Bridge required a clearance height of 200 feet reached by a steep but gradual incline utilizing curvature to lengthen the path of ascent. 

To achieve the engineering challenges, Mosher proposed a flowing structure of orthotropic steel and box girder construction supported by thirty vertical concrete piers across the 2.2-mile length. The tall, tapering arched piers recall ancient Roman aqueducts and the Spanish colonial architecture that inspired the Balboa Park Cabrillo Bridge.  Initially, the bridge was to be painted red, however Mosher’s vision was to paint the steel superstructure using “San Diego Blue” to blend with the colors of the bay and the sky. The result is a beautiful blending of engineering innovation and aesthetic appreciation. 

Do you know why the Coronado Bridge is curved? To obtain enough height for ships to pass underneath, yet maintain a slope that is safe for driving ⛴

At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Bridge, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey reflected on the impact the Bridge has had on our region and looked to the future stating “Here’s to the next 50 years and to the graceful blue structure that brings us together and makes us stronger.” Mosher’s distinguished curve not only solved utilitarian and structural challenges but also created a memorable, curving structure that has become a signature icon for San Diego. 

  • Civic
  • CA San Diego


AIA San Diego Legacy Award (2019)

American Institute of Steel Construction ‘Most Beautiful Bridge’ Award of Merit (1970)