Thursday, October 18 , 2018, 12:28 pm | Fair 73º


No Quick Fix for Montecito Bridges Damaged in Jan. 9 Debris Flows

Repairs to 6 spans estimated to take 8 to 12 months, due in part to need to relocate utilities

The bridge over Montecito Creek on Highway 192 near Parra Grande Lane is just one of six spans damaged in the Jan.  9 debris flows. Officials say it likely will take 8 to 12 months to fix or rebuild the spans. Click to view larger
The bridge over Montecito Creek on Highway 192 near Parra Grande Lane is just one of six spans damaged in the Jan.  9 debris flows. Officials say it likely will take 8 to 12 months to fix or rebuild the spans. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Numerous bridges over creeks in Montecito that were damaged or destroyed during the Jan. 9 debris flows likely will take eight months to a year to be repaired or rebuilt.

That means long-term detours for motorists traveling along Highway 192 in Montecito.

“This is the firmest construction schedule to date issued by Caltrans (the state agency responsible for Highway 192),” Matt Dobberteen of the Santa Barbara County Public Works' Transportation Division said this week during a community meeting in Montecito. “The goal is to have construction simultaneously with all of the structures.”

Crews need to conduct utility relocation for five badly damaged spans, which may hamper the construction process.

“Utility locations are the key drivers of the schedule,” Dobberteen said. “Utility relocations greatly complicate the nature of the construction. You have to move gas lines, power, and water. They won’t be taking out the bridges until utility relocation is complete.”

Demolition of the bridges and construction are the next steps.

“You should see the roadway being open up in the areas within eight to 12 months,” Dobberteen said.

A map of the bridge closures can be viewed here.

The County Public Works Department and Caltrans are repairing six bridges hit with mud, boulders and debris during the storm, according to Dobberteen.

Four bridges will need to be replaced entirely, and two will need new guide railings because they were washed away, Dobberteen said.

The bridges needing total replacement are at Montecito Creek and Highway 192, just west of Hot Springs Road; the Romero Creek bridge, just East of Sheffield Drive; the Toro Canyon bridge at Toro Canyon Road and Highway 192 intersection; and Arroyo Parida Creek near Carpinteria, just west of Cravens Lane at Highway 192.

Through traffic over the bridges needing complete replacement is closed except for emergency and utility vehicles, Dobberteen said. 

Rail replacement is underway, Dobberteen said, for the bridge at San Ysidro Creek and Highway 192, near Randall Road.

“This is the only structure with no utility conflicts,” Dobberteen said.

The Toro Creek (near Ladera Lane) bridge rail replacement has begun, according to Dobberteen.

The two bridges have one-way traffic control, he said, adding that drivers “should be able to flow across the bridges with minor, temporary closures” throughout the reconstruction of the railings.

Crews are using precast bridge decks to expedite construction, Dobberteen said.

“Rather a more complicated process, or instead of pouring concrete at the site, they are bringing precast panels that should make the construction process go faster,” he said.

Drivers ignoring roadblock signs and barricades Friday evening near the Montecito Creek bridge at East Valley Road and Parra Grande Lane were heading straight into a disaster zone, making U-turns since the road remains closed to traffic and bridge repairs need to be done.

County emergency officials have asked residents to remain patient as crews embark the projects.

“It’s going to take some time,” Matt Pontes, assistant county executive officer, said this week. “We have three county bridges, and the rest is Caltrans.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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