MONTECITO, Calif. - The Ashley Road bridge in Montecito has been rebuilt and is open to vehicle and pedestrian travel after it was destroyed in the 2018 devastating mudflow, that took 23 lives.
At a ceremony on the new bridge, Santa Barbara County Public Works officials said this project replaces a bridge that had been standing since 1918 and withstood prior disasters.
Tons of debris, rocks and the power of raging water ruined the structure and many homes in the area.
It is a connector between Sycamore Canyon Road and Mountain Drive.
A resident nearby and the owner of the Tecelote Book Shop, Mary Sheldon said, some of the rocks from the old bridge she remembers for decades were saved by the construction company and placed in the creek bed. "The spirit of the bridge and the soul of the bridge will remain," she said.
While this project was taking place she had to go to and from her house in a creative way using a make shift path and railing from one side of the creek to another.
The Resident Engineer on the project Phil Gaston said the superstructure for the bridge is 67 feet long. It has four concrete piles on the corners going 30 feet deep. He also said the bridge is slightly higher than the older one.
First District Supervisor Das Williams said the new bridge is "going to be safe. It will accommodate a much bigger storm."
Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor said for an emergency this will shave time off their response and it could save lives. He said it is also a trusted evacuation route, now that the temporary bridge has been removed, with a more sturdy structure in place.