Bridge Updates

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   October 17, 2019
Underground drainage and creek restoration is also taking place under the bridge

Caltrans reported earlier this week that the Montecito Creek Bridge at Parra Grande and Highway 192 is slated to open mid-December, nearly three months later than originally planned.

Caltrans Public Information Officer Jim Shivers tells us the reason that the Montecito Creek Bridge is the last to be opened to traffic is due to a large gas supply line that had to be relocated in order to complete the bridge. The gas line, which serves the Santa Barbara and Montecito area, had to be relocated at two bridges: the Arroyo Paredon Bridge in Carpinteria and the Montecito Creek Bridge. “These were the northern and southern most structures damaged in the mudslide,” Shivers said. In order to service the area with gas without interruption, the gas line could only be worked on at one location at a time. Since the Arroyo Paredon Bridge was farther along and less complicated, the gas line was cut and capped there and relocated there first, making it one of the first structures to be completed post mud flow (it was re-opened in May 2019). 

According to Shivers, the Montecito Creek Bridge was more complicated as it had multiple utilities tied to the bridge. The challenge was to coordinate with all of the utilities to remove the existing facilities off of the bridge while maintaining service with temporary lines that were located out of the way of the structure foundation work. The amount of time it took to relocate utilities put the structure foundation work into fall of last year. “An unseasonably wet year hit our construction site and we had to remove our crews out of the creek until the flows could be diverted enough to begin foundation work below the creek level,” he said, adding that the site is extremely tight for a work area, in part due to the temporary utility pole placed in the roadway. “The pole is a hazard because of the proximity to where traffic would be placed, if we were to open the bridge up to one lane of traffic. The tight area and working around live traffic would result in the repair work taking longer than estimated,” he said. Caltrans is currently completing underground drainage and creek restoration work at the site, and the bridge is expected to reopen in mid-December. 

A temporary utility pole near the Montecito Creek Bridge at Parra Grande will be removed in the coming weeks before the opening of the bridge in mid-December

Construction continues daily from 7 am to 5 pm, weather permitting. There will be intermittent road closures at the intersection of Parra Grande Road and SR-192. Barricades and locked gates will continue to secure the Montecito Creek location with detours available via local roads. Emergency responders will maintain access to the locked gates for public safety.

Five other bridges at San Ysidro Creek, Romero Canyon Creek, Toro Creek, Toro Canyon Creek, and Arroyo Paredon Creek were opened earlier this year, but motorists may encounter active construction on some of these bridges until all bridge bicycle railing has been installed. All construction is expected to be completed by mid-December. 

Montecito Association Meets

At this month’s Montecito Association meeting, First District Supervisor Das Williams reported that a Public Safety Power Shutoff is preliminarily scheduled for this Friday, October 18. As of press time Southern California Edison had put out a warning of high fire conditions that could trigger a PSPS from 3 pm to 5 pm, or longer. The shutoff affects the Sheffield Circuit, which includes part of Birnam Wood, eastern Montecito above and below East Valley Road, Ortega Ridge, Summerland, and the western portion of Carpinteria. “I highly discourage people from going out and buying generators. The air quality gets demolished. It would be counterproductive if a massive amount of diesel generators are purchased,” Williams said, before a discussion ensued about pursuing multiple community solar microgrids that could be activated during a PSPS. Williams said he would direct his staff to look into solar options for Montecito. The MA voted unanimously to form an ad hoc committee to look into the issue, working with Supervisor Williams and MFPD Chief Kevin Taylor. To learn more about the potential PSPS, visit, where you can click on the circuit list by County. Friday’s PSPS, if implemented, will affect the Sheffield Circuit. 

Chief Taylor reported that revised Debris Flow Risk maps will be released to the community on December 5, 2019. “All of the indicators lead us to believe our risk is diminishing substantially, and hopefully the maps will show much narrower red zones,” he said. We’ll have much more on the map revisions as we approach their release. 

 Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi reported there have been several burglaries in Montecito in the last two months, including a commercial burglary at San Ysidro Pharmacy in the middle of the night in mid-September. Residential or automobile burglaries have occurred on Chelham Way, East Valley Road, Olive Mill Road, Butterfly Lane, San Ysidro Lane, and Summit Road, and several trailheads have seen burglaries from vehicles. Despite this, Lieutenant Arnoldi said that reported crimes are occurring less often than usual for Montecito. 

Trish Davis reported that the Sheriff’s Department, Montecito Fire, and the Montecito Association are hosting a community meeting to discuss active shooter situations. The meeting is intended to educate residents about what is being done at local community events to thwart such situations. The meeting is November 4, 2019 from 6 pm to 8 pm at Montecito Union School. 

The next Montecito Association meeting is November 12. For more information, visit 


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