The flash flooding and debris flows that thundered through Montecito early on Jan. 9 destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes while killing 23 people. The remains of two victims — 17-year-old Jack Cantin and 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa — have not been found.
Bridges throughout the area also were casualties of the widespread destruction, but seven of them — including several on the crucial east-west artery of East Valley Road/Highway 192 — are expected to be open for motorists before the winter storm season.
Caltrans is working with its utility partners to repair and replace these bridges to restore full access for the community, according to an agency official.
The bridges needing replacement:
» Montecito Creek at East Valley Road, at the base of Parra Grande Lane west of Hot Springs Road
» San Ysidro Creek at East Valley Road, just east of Randall Road
» Romero Creek at East Valley Road between Sheffield Drive on the west and Ortega Ridge Road on the east
» Toro Creek bridge near Ladera Lane east of Ortega Ridge Road
» Toro Canyon Creek bridge at the intersection of East Valley and Toro Canyon roads
» Olive Mill Road overpass at Highway 101 near the Montecito Inn
» Arroyo Paredon Creek near Carpinteria, just west of Cravens Lane at Foothill Road/Highway 192
The cost for repairing and rebuilding the seven bridges is estimated at $55 million.
Locked gates and barricades secure some bridge areas with detours available on local roads. Emergency responders maintain access to these locked areas for public safety.
Segments of East Valley Road are open, but motorists are urged to use Highway 101 to alleviate traffic congestion on Montecito surface streets.
East Valley Road remains closed east of Sycamore Canyon Road and Foothill Road is closed at Cravens Lane in Carpinteria.
Caltrans provided project updates last week:
» Montecito Creek bridge at East Valley Road — Southern California Gas Co. is nearing completion on a project to relocate a high-pressure gas line.
After the gas line relocation is finished, Sylmar-based Security Paving Co. will be at the site from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily to complete work in and around the creek to protect the new bridge and surrounding area during the rainy season.
The bridge is expected to be reopened to traffic this winter, but with restrictions, Caltrans said.
» San Ysidro Creek bridge at East Valley Road — Bridge rail work is expected to be done by mid-October, followed by the installation of crash cushions, guardrails and bike rails. All work on the bridge is scheduled to be finished before winter.
» Romero Creek bridge — Bridge rail work is expected to be finished by mid-October. Slope paving will continue for the next four to five weeks, followed by the installation of a guardrail and crash cushions. The bridge is expected to reopen with some restrictions this fall.
» Toro Creek bridge — Bridge widening on the upstream side is complete. Construction work on the bridge is estimated to continue through the winter.
» Toro Canyon Creek bridge — Slope paving construction will continue for the next three to four weeks. Utility companies will begin attaching gas and water lines to the bridge in October, followed by the final paving, striping and the installation of guardrails and bike rails. The bridge is expected to reopen with some restrictions this fall.
» Olive Mill Road overpass at Highway 101 — Drain pipe installation has been completed, with deck and barrier slabs expected to be poured in mid-October. All work is expected to be completed in December. Watsonville-based Granite Construction Inc. is the contractor for the $25 million project.
» Arroyo Paredon Creek bridge — Stream stabilization work continues downstream of the bridge. The forming of bridge abutments is continuing, with concrete placement scheduled for mid-October. The bridge is expected to open this winter. Santa Barbara-based Lash Construction is the contractor for the $10 million bridge replacement.
Click here for more information on these projects and traffic updates on other Caltrans projects in Santa Barbara County.
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.