Will the Coronado Bay bridge float?

I once had a taxi driver in San Diego tell me about how the middle section of the Coronado Bay bridge was designed to float if it ever fell in the water. The reasoning, supposedly, was that if an enemy could blow up the bridge and the pieces sank, then all the war ships would be trapped behind the wreckage. But the big main span is designed to float so a cruiser could push it out of the way.
Intriguing story. Some plausability, but maybe the taxi driver was just angling for a big tip by regaling me with local lore.
Anyone know the truth?

[snarkily] Not if any Hummers or Yukons are on it. [/snarkily]

I got nuthin’. Should make for a terrific segment on “Letterman,” though. :smiley:

Wiki says so. That doesn’t automatically mean it is true, of course, but it does mean that at the very least the cab driver was passing along a well known and commonly beleived piece of local folklore.


"It is said that sections of the bridge are designed to float, should the bridge collapse, so that they can be easily towed away and allow for ships (specifically those stationed at Naval Station San Diego) to quickly resume operations [citation needed]. "

This site agrees:

Welcome to the Dope Jombi.

I was stationed on the North Island Naval base from '85 to early '89 on board the USS Ranger CV-61. I heard a similar story back then, the only difference being I was told that it would only take 2 Navy Tugs to haul the spans out of the way.
Regretfully this is only hearsay or as the Navy called it Scuttlebutt. But it at least indicates the story is not new.
This fairly official site neither confirms nor denies it.


If the reason you are asking is because it seems odd that concrete and steel would float, then you might be interested in knowing that there are 2 “floating” bridges near Seattle that cross Lake Washington (Highway 520 and Interstate 90, I drive one to work every day). The sections have air pockets that help them to float and they are anchored to the bottom of the lake with cables to keep them from floating away.

I lived in San Diego for 10 years and I never heard that one. A similar story I did hear was that the Silver Strand is supposedly rigged with explosives so it could be blown up in case the fleet needs to leave in a hurry. This one is usually told in classic UL fashion.

I was only in SD for 3+ years. I do not recall what the Silver Strand is? What is it?
Is it the long beach from Coronado to Imperial Beach with the Seal Base on it?
I think we called that stretch “The Strand”.


Having driven across Lake Washington I have no problem believing that concrete and steel bridges will float. The problem I have is, having driven over the very high Coronado bay bridge, believing that any of those bridge sections would still float after falling from that height.

Yes. It’s the strip of beach going south from Coronado to Imperial Beach. It makes a bay out of the whole south end of San Diego Bay.

Here’s a good picture of the bridge. The center section almost looks like it could float, but any air pockets would likely shatter as soon as it struck the water.

Hmm. Maybe David Letterman & Paul Shaffer should gather up some dynamite and do an on-location episode of, “Will It Float?”

Some type of foam could be embedded in the concrete. That should allow the spans to float even if it’s cracked open.

Thanks for the clarification, we never called it by its proper name and yet I drove on the Silver Strand Blvd almost everyday for six months. I missed that rumor about the beach being mined to blow up, maybe it is newer rumor?


Coulda, shoulda, woulda, I’ll believe it if I ever see it.

None of the Coronado Bridge sites that I looked at such as this one and and this one mention anything about the center section floating.

If floating were actually the case, I’ve got to believe that a mention of it would have slipped into the descriptions somewhere.

I was stationed in San Diego from 1979 to 1982 and I heard both of these stories(floating bridge and exploding Strand). The floating bridge sections seemed perfectly reasonable to me, given how much naval firepower is stashed behind that bridge. However, the story about Silver Strand beach being rigged to explode, given the draft of even a modest warship, seemed rather implausible. Then again, much of what the Navy did seemed that way to me.

I watched the damned thing being built.

What you have is a taxi driver who doesn’t have anything else to say. Next time take a different taxi.