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Temporary bridge finished in mudflow zone of Montecito

Cold Springs trail bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 7.12.02 PM
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito Bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito Bridge
John Palminteri
The temporary bridge over the mudflow damaged section of East Mountain Drive in Montecito is now in and open. (Photo: John Palminteri)

MONTECITO, Calif. - Still rebounding from the mudflow disaster in January 2018, Montecito is connecting a key area broken up by the force of Mother Nature in an explosive mood.

Cars, pedestrians and bike riders are now going over the new temporary bridge installed on East Mountain Drive in Montecito.

It is located at the Cold Springs Trailhead.

The previous bridge was destroyed by the force of the Montecito mudflow disaster the morning of January 9, 2018.

It followed the December 2017 Thomas Fire that left the nearby hills unprotected or capable of handling intense rainfall.

The Santa Barbara County Public Works department says it has been working non stop on repair projects since the crisis.

This project is funded from a s $5.7 million in Southern California Edison Settlement Funds.  That paid $230,000 for the bridge along with the repair of 28 lane miles of road.

$5.7 million in Southern California Edison Settlement Funds will pay for the road repair and and an additional $230,000 in settlement funds will pay for bridge replacement.

Bike rider Emily Sommermann came through with a smile and said, "Oh, I'm so excited! This is just great to have this bridge.   It's beautiful, and it fits in.  Now I can take my rides all the way across.  That's what I like to do, go all the way out to Gubernador Canyon."

Some of the first bike riders across see a long ride in their future again.  They are hoping one more connector is finished as well at the San Ysidro Ranch crossing.

Kevin Finnegan stopped his bike and said, "when that's complete is we can go all the way across to Carpinteria without getting on any roads with heavy traffic." 

To get over the Cold Springs crossing prior to this bridge,  hikers would have to go down the rocks and cross the running water.

The temporary bridge is in three sections. 

In about three years more funding comes in for  a permanent bridge.

The temporary bridge will then be removed and stored.

It will be used when needed in another disaster.

Other bridges will also get improvements where they need upgrades to their surfaces and rails.

The roads were badly damaged by heavy trucks loaded with rocks after the mudflow and they are in the process of being improved.

Trail hikers coming down from a scenic loop called the bridge a benefit to the area.  For many it is  a special place.

       
Melissa Krofcheck is visiting from Maryland. 
" I look in the distance I see ocean, and the other side,  mountains.   You don't see that everywhere," she said.

Her friend, Alex Carter went to Westmont College nearby.  She said, "this is my happy place. I have hiked this probably 20 times, the bridge is nice."
Besides drivers, bikers and hikers it will be vital for emergency crews coming in and residents trying to evacuate."

David Kruger recalls how it's been for the last 28 months.
"This was was my normal way to work. It was only eight minutes to ten minutes. For the past couple of years it's been at least double that."

Geologist Phillip Hogan said, "many of the residents are probably thrilled,  others perhaps enjoyed the lack of cars for the last couple of years."  

He has two dogs, and after a two mile loop, they climbed down into a flowing water pool for a few minutes to cool off both a pair of feet, and some tired paws.

Watch tonight on KEYT NewsChannel 3. KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX Fox 11 News.

(More details, photos and video will be added here later today.)

Related story: More bridge work underway to repair damage from 2018 mudflow disaster in Montecito

For more information on projects go to: The Santa Barbara County Public Works Dept.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.