Big Creek Bridge
Location: Route 1 in  Big Sur, Monterey County Year Built:  1937

 

California Bridges

 

While Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in California, it is likely that neighboring Big Creek Bridge takes top honors.  Traveling north five miles beyond Lucia on Route 1, you'll see the bridge in the distance and a paved and often busy parking lot where people are out of their cars looking and taking photos.  You must cross the lane of oncoming traffic (carefully when it is clear and safe).  Located about 40 miles south of Monterey past Lime Creek State Park, this 500 to 600' (two sources provide different lengths) long double-arch bridge is one of a series of seven bridges constructed along Big Sur during the early part of the 20th century.

 

Built in 1937, Californiaa’s Big Creek Bridge—a double-arch crossing with half-arch side spans—had a seismic retrofit  which was completed in 1999.  Challenged by the structure’s unique support system, which doesn’t rely on abutment foundations, and its fractured rock base, engineers devised a foundation retrofit that provided the necessary strength and stiffness via modified tie-down anchors that pass through the alluvium and into the fractured rock. Irregular rock bands located at depths beyond the reach of equipment required the use of vertical tie-downs at one pier, which would hit the rock at higher elevations. Rest assured, you don't need to hold your breath while passing over this well constructed, reinforced engineer's delight. 

 

After a retrofit, there was a landslide in 2000 which caused this section of Route 1 to be closed..  It is open now as crews recently worked to clear the debris and shore up risk areas.   Carved into the hillside of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the bridge and Highway 1 cut through Big Creek Marine Ecological Reserve. California Route 1 is a public thoroughfare and major two-lane highway sweeping 100 feet above the mouth of the Big Creek Canyon. One of the world's most scenic roads which ties coastal cities from Los Angeles to San Francisco passes through Big Creek region which is closed to the public and operated as two adjacent reserves under the watchful eye of the University of California's Natural Reserve System and the University of California Santa Cruz. 

 

Set with the goal of studying wilderness lands and marine waters, the  4200 acre Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve and 1200 acre Big Creek Marine Ecological Reserve, researchers delight in opportunities to study plants and animals in one of California's most pristine coastal environments.  From a preservationist's perspective, human activities such as car traffic and highway construction create extreme, long-term  disturbances to reserve habitats. 
 

 

 
 
 
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