New Bridge at San Ysidro Creek

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   February 4, 2021
The new bridge will be open for use in the coming weeks

Nearly three years to the day after the 1/9 Debris Flow that damaged or destroyed over 600 homes as well as debilitated Montecito infrastructure, the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department made a significant step in the rebuilding process with the replacement of the East Mountain Drive Bridge over San Ysidro Creek. The bridge, which was and will continue to be used primarily as bicycle and pedestrian access, was a well-used connection between the San Ysidro Ranch and the San Ysidro Trailhead before being washed away on the morning of January 9, 2018. 

The 75-foot-long structure will be closed to vehicular traffic except during emergencies, when first responders will have access. The $285,000 bridge was paid for with Southern California Edison settlement funds and constructed by Peter Lapidus Construction, a local vendor. Approach roads are expected to be built in the upcoming weeks, and the bridge is scheduled to open this February.

In addition to washing away the bridge, the 1/9 Debris Flow damaged 21 (and completely destroyed three) of the San Ysidro Ranch’s 41 luxury guest cottages. The property endured significant damage to most of its infrastructure, including sewer and power lines, as well as technological lines. Support areas including maid service building, laundry, emergency power generation, and shipping and receiving were all lost during the mudslide, and the resort’s two eateries, Plow & Angel and the Stonehouse, were also damaged. After 15 months of rebuilding and renovation, the 500-acre resort, owned by Ty Warner, was back open for business in April 2019. 

A highly anticipated sign of recovery from the 1/9 Debris Flow: a new walking/biking bridge connecting San Ysidro Ranch and the San Ysidro Trailhead
In addition to washing away the bridge, the 1/9 Debris Flow significantly damaged the San Ysidro Ranch in January 2018. The 500-acre resort has been back up-and-running since April 2019.

According to Public Works PIO Lael Wageneck, the new bridge is the latest in a series of projects that County Public Works has completed in the past year in Montecito. In February 2020, the $1.8 million Ashley Road Bridge that connects East Mountain Road to Sycamore Canyon Road was opened to the public. The new bridge is a structural improvement and maintains the aesthetic beauty of the previous bridge. It includes a higher arch and longer span to allow a 100-year storm event to pass under the bridge. Last summer, the County also finished a $5.7 million project to repair 28 lane miles and microsurface 17 lane miles of road damaged during the fire and debris flow.

This coming year, County Public Works will proceed with additional projects as part of the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow recovery. Signs are already in place on Hot Springs Road, where work will begin this month on the Hot Springs Shoulder Improvement project. This project includes improving walking shoulders from the Santa Barbara City Limits to Middle Road, that will increase connectivity and enhance recent work by the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade and Montecito Trails Foundation; the project is tentatively scheduled to finish by mid-February, weather permitting. 

The County will also repair segments of North Jameson Lane that sustained damage to the bridge approach guardrail, crash cushions, and drainage facilities. The County installed temporary concrete barriers and crash cushions that have remained in place for the last three years while the project was designed, permitted, and authorized for construction. Construction began in December and will finish by the end of January. Other projects scheduled for 2021 include the Hot Springs Triangle, and the Sheffield Drive Bridge at Ortega Hill Road and North Jameson Lane.

 For more information on Transportation Division projects, visit


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