Cold Spring Canyon Bridge
Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment
View the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report here (PDF):
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has completed the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the Cold Spring Canyon Suicide Barrier Project in Santa Barbara County. After circulation of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, Caltrans selected the Grid/Mesh Alternative as the preferred alternative based on environmental analysis and community input. The Grid/Mesh Alternative would have less of an impact on visual/aesthetic and cultural resources and would also meet the project’s stated Purpose and Need. Comments on the document and the Department’s responses to those comments have been incorporated into the final environmental document.
The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report can be downloaded and viewed from the link above.
Hard copies of the environmental document are available for public viewing at the:
Caltrans District Office
50 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Santa Barbara Central Library
40 East Anapamu Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Solvang Branch Library
1745 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA 93463
Goleta Branch Library
500 North Fairview Avenue
Goleta, CA 93117
Montecito Branch Library
1469 East Valley Road
Montecito, CA 93108
If you have any questions, or would prefer a CD of the entire document or a hard copy of Volume 1 with a CD of the entire document, please contact Matt Fowler, Senior Environmental Planner, at (805) 542-4603/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 2008 - The purpose of Caltrans' safety improvement program is to reduce the number and severity of accidents on the State's highway system by implementing safety improvements to existing roadways. The program includes projects at spot locations where accident history indicates a pattern susceptible to correction by a safety improvement, and system-wide improvement involving highway elements associated with accident frequency or severity. The Cold Spring Canyon Bridge, a state owned structure, has the highest concentration of fatalities in the District. A multidisciplinary task force consisting of CHP, Santa Barbara County Sheriff, emergency services, Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, Caltrans, and experts in the field of suicidology was formed to investigate what can be done to prevent future suicides at this location. The task force, recommended that installing a physical barrier would be an effective safety improvement on this state highway.
We also need to consider the associated costs and risks involved when responding to a suicide incident at the bridge. There is the cost of dispatching emergency personnel to the incident and the risks involved to those personnel in trying to prevent a suicide. Vehicles have been left in the travel lanes of the bridge. There are the costs and risks involved for the Sheriff's Search and Rescue recovery teams that must traverse difficult terrain to recover remains. There are the costs and risks involved of deploying our own maintenance and traffic management personnel who will provide traffic control for the incidents. Lastly, there is the potential delay and detours required for motorists using Route 154 and the costs associated with those delays and detours when traversing the highway during an incident.
A public meeting was held in July 2007 to inform the public about this project to install a Safety Barrier along the Cold Spring Bridge.
The Caltrans Structural Design team is continuing to work on design alternatives for the bridge within design constraints. Work is also progressing on the environmental document which is expected to be available for public review this year.
This project has the support of:
- The Glendon Association
- The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department
- The Santa Barbara Council of Governments
- The California Highway Patrol
- Santa Barbara County Supervisor Brooks Firestone
- Assemblymember Pedro Nava
- Family Service Agency
BackgroundPreventing suicides on Highway 154 at Cold Spring Canyon Bridge was the main objective of a multi-agency committee.
“This community cares and wants to make it safer for everyone—and help is available,” said Dr. Lisa Firestone, The Glendon Association director of Research and Education, and suicidology specialist.
Since the bridge was built in 1964, 54 people have committed suicide at that location with 38 deaths occurring in the last 25 years, according to the county Sheriff Coroner's Department. It’s not known how many people have been saved.
Local law enforcement officers recently rescued a person from committing suicide at the bridge. However, these incidents carry great risks for the deputies and officers involved in life or death rescue and recovery operations, according to Commander Dominic Palera of the county Sheriff’s Department.
In November 2005, the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge Suicide Prevention Committee formed to help identify suicide prevention strategies at the bridge.
“This is a diverse community group,” said Nevin Sams, Caltrans District Traffic Safety engineer. “We’re working together to develop interim and permanent solutions.”
The committee’s membership includes Caltrans; The Glendon Association; county Sheriff’s Department; California Highway Patrol; Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG); Santa Barbara County; Family Service Agency 2-1-1 Helpline; ACCESS Team; and the county Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services. Representatives from the offices of Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone and Assemblymember Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, have assisted the committee.
So far, the committee has identified the following suicide prevention strategies, and related findings, for the Cold Spring Bridge:
- Signage – Currently, a No Loitering sign is posted at the bridge. Other suggestions for signage include We Care About You or Distress Center — We Listen 24 Hours a Day. Both signs would include two suicide hotline numbers for assistance.
- Call boxes – Ideally, telephones would be located on both sides of the bridge and offer a direct 1-800 suicide hotline number as well as roadside assistance. Currently, the direct hotline service is not available in call boxes in California. However, there is no pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge.
- Video cameras – Local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to continually patrol the rural area or visually monitor the cameras. Either way, cameras do not prevent suicide, and may even serve as an attraction for it.
- Lighting – It’s not certain whether installing lights would help reduce suicides.
- Safety Barrier/Fence - Partial barriers can actually increase suicide incidents. An effective barrier would be continuous and at least six-feet high. Various designs/material are available. Effectiveness, bridge strength, aesthetics, historic eligibility, cost and constructablility would be factors in choosing a type/style of barrier.
- Safety net – A safety net installed on the bridge is an effective barrier for helping to reduce suicides. However, there are maintenance and safety issues and it could become an attractive nuisance.
- Pedestrian/bicyclist access – Restricting pedestrians and bicyclists from the bridge area would, most likely, impact local triathlon and hiking events.
- Public parking/pull out areas – It’s not certain whether restricting parking or closing off pull out areas would reduce suicides. The roadside locations are necessary for disabled vehicles, commuters, keeping the traffic moving and maintenance staff’s parking.
- Surveillance – Heightening surveillance efforts might be an effective suicide deterrent, but may require more law enforcement staffing and resources than is currently available.
- Public education – Educate the public on suicide prevention through the local media and community meetings and events. In addition, provide public awareness that dialing 9-1-1 is best for notifying law enforcement in emergencies.
For more information on suicide prevention, please call the 24-hour Suicide Prevention hotline at 2-1-1, or 1-800-400-1572, or visit the American Association of Suicidology web page at www.suicidology.org.
Para información en Español, favor de llamar al (805) 549-3138
Last updated: April 25, 2011