Montecito Creek Bridge Reopens

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   November 26, 2019
Community leaders gathered to mark the reopening of the Montecito Creek Bridge, nearly two years after the 1/9 debris flow

Nearly two years after being washed away during the 1/9 debris flow, the Montecito Creek Bridge was reopened on Friday, November 22, the last of six bridges along State Route 192 to be replaced or repaired following the disaster. “I am very pleased that we can bring a small sense of normalcy to a community still healing from this natural disaster,” said Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins, who along with several community leaders met on the bridge for a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

The bridge is located directly above an area that was significantly affected by the debris flow, where eight victims of the tragedy lost their lives. The bridge, located adjacent to Parra Grande Lane, is a direct link from western Montecito to the upper village; a detour down Hot Springs has caused traffic issues and longer drive times for Montecito residents since before the debris flow.

The bridge was slated to be opened this past summer, but construction crews encountered multiple delays. A large gas supply line had to be relocated in order to complete the bridge; the line had to be relocated at two bridges, the northern and southernmost structures damaged in the mudslide: Arroyo Paredon Bridge and the Montecito Creek Bridge. In order to service the area with gas without interruption, the gas line could only be worked on at one location at a time, and since the Arroyo Paredon bridge was farther along and less complicated, the gas line was cut and capped there and relocated there first. The Montecito Creek Bridge was more complicated as it had multiple utilities tied to the bridge. “The challenge was to coordinate with all 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,” said Public Information Officer for Caltrans, Jim Shivers. “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.

Caltrans will perform additional work over the next several months at the Montecito Creek Bridge which is expected to remain open to the public during the additional work. Further repairs will also continue at the Toro Creek Bridge to complete the final widening andoverlay to allow for two-way traffic at this location. All bridges will receive bicycle railing upon arrival.

The completion of this bridge follows the rebuilding and repair of five other bridges along the corridor this year.The Arroyo Paredon Creek Bridge was completed in May 2018, the Romero Canyon and Toro Canyon Bridges were opened in January 2019, and the San Ysidro CreekBridge was completed in April 2019.The contractor for this $20 million project to restore five of the bridges was Security Paving of Sylmar. Lash Construction of Santa Barbara was the contractor for the $10 million replacement of the Arroyo Paredon Bridge.


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