What was once a "lost, confused walkway" has been transformed into a revamped intersection, complete with a newly redone bridge, landscaping and lighting in Santa Barbara's West Beach neighborhood.
On Tuesday, neighbors and those involved with the project celebrated the newly rebuilt Chapala Street Bridge over Mission Creek, which sits at the intersection of Chapala and Yanonali streets.
The project that began last June wrapped up a month ahead of schedule, said Adam Hendel, supervising civil engineer for the City of Santa Barbara.
The older bridge was deemed structurally deficient by Caltrans, and the new structure meets seismic standards.
Along with the new bridge, revamped sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping have all dressed up the area.
Many of the city's bridges were built in the early part of the 20th century, and the city has been working to make upgrades. The Chapala Street project is the first of three bridges to be replaced in the lower State Street area.
Most of the funding for the $3.2 million project came from a federal grant, with the city making up the difference, mostly for design costs.
When it does rain, the area has gotten inundated with water in the past, said Mayor Helene Schneider.
The improvements should also help deter tagging, which had been a problem in the area, she said. The patience of neighbors, including the Santa Barbara Tourist Hostel, was to be commended, she said.
"I know it's not easy to live in a construction zone," Schneider said. "But you're in a safer neighborhood now."
The city has replaced several bridges in the recent past in West Downtown, including the span at Ortega and Bath streets as well as the bridge at Haley and and De la Vina streets.
The Mason Street Bridge replacement project is scheduled for construction in late summer 2014, and Santa Barbara County will be working to increase flood-water capacity in Mission Creek between Yanonali and Mason streets.
Assistant Public Works Director Pat Kelley said the Mason Street bridges will have new enhancements for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The next bridge the city will tackle is on Cabrillo Boulevard, which presents an engineering challenge for the city as its works to preserve a lighthouse while repairing the bridge that sits underneath the rest of the structure, formerly home to Rusty's Pizza Parlor.