MONTECITO — On Jan. 12, a few days after the third anniversary of the 2018 deadly debris flow in Montecito, the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department took another step in the rebuilding process when it replaced the East Mountain Drive Bridge over San Ysidro Creek.
The 75-foot long structure will primarily be used as a bicycle and pedestrian access bridge between the San Ysidro Ranch and the San Ysidro Trailhead. The bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic except during emergencies when first responders will have access. The $285,000 bridge was paid for with SCE 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 next month, according to officials.
The project marks the latest in a series of projects that County Public Works has completed in the past year in Montecito. Last February, 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 year, County Public Works will proceed with additional projects as part of the Thomas Fire recovery. Work will begin this month on the Hot Springs shoulder improvement project. The County will create improved walking shoulders from the Santa Barbara city limits to Middle Road that will increase connectivity and enhance recent work by the Bucket Brigade and Montecito Trails Foundation. This project is tentatively scheduled to finish by mid-February.
— Gerry Fall