Spectacular engineering feat still haunts locals.
“Jump up — not down!” screamed a dude in a pickup truck as we began to shoot a few photos of this magnificent scene. I should have known something was up. It only took a couple of casual chats with people along Stagecoach Road to figure out what it was.
Built in 1963, the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge embodies the perfect blend of strength and beauty. The 1200-foot crossing is by far the longest steel arch bridge in the state of California — a brightly colored architectural symbol of the Santa Ynez Valley.
But its history paints a darker picture — as 55 people have plunged to their deaths from the deck of its imposing span over a 420-foot canyon below. Eight lives lost in 2009, making it the most lethal year in the bridge’s history.
For years, residents have been calling it a “suicide hotspot” — many have been fighting for the installation of safety nets — though it has become a contentious legal battle in and out of court. But last week Caltrans announced it would begin installing grid mesh barriers on both sides of the historic structure; the project is expected to be completed this spring.
Photos by Josh Kaplan.