On Wednesday, May 15, Caltrans opened the re-constructed Arroyo Paredon bridge on Foothill Road at the west end of the Carpinteria Valley that had been closed since the Jan. 8, 2018 debris flow, when thousands of tons of mud, boulders and tree limbs came down the watershed in an unprecedented deluge after the Thomas Fire. The project included an extensive restoration of the damaged creek bed, with many willow trees and native plants placed along the banks and rock benches installed atop the east bank as well.
Area residents expressed concern over the scope of Caltrans’ efforts, which the agency addressed by narrowing the original design and adding painted bike lanes. Parents with small children who live in the vicinity of the bridge (including this reporter) also expressed concern about the possibility of increased highway speeds with improved sightlines and the removal of the stop sign that had been in place when the bridge was a single lane crossing. Caltrans representatives had said there were possible speed mitigations they could add to the final project, including rumble strips and possibly additional signage, but they also noted that the rumble strips may have become a noise nuisance as well. To date, no additional speed modifications beyond the posted 40 mile-an-hour speed limit have been imposed. Lash Construction of Santa Barbara was the contractor for the $10 million bridge replacement project.