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Big Bear Bridge

Client:California Department of Transportation
Location:Big Bear, CA
Markets:Transportation, Bridges

The Big Bear Bridge replacement project along California State Route 18 is located in the San Bernardino Mountains, nestled in a valley surrounded by steep terrain and an environmentally sensitive wilderness. Now a popular year round resort destination, the community of Big Bear wanted a signature bridge to complement its history and location. For almost 20 years, local and state officials debated how to fix the bridge that provided access to the Big Bear community. Several times annually during severe snowfall events, the nearly 100-year-old bridge iced over and was closed, devastating local businesses.

In 2008 Flatiron was selected to construct a $34 million bridge near the Big Bear Dam on California State Route 18, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The new bridge connects Highway 18 over Big Bear Creek canyon on the south side of the dam to Big Bear valley, replacing an older structure built in 1925 that spanned the Big Bear Valley Dam.

The new 475-foot-long concrete arch bridge has three 12-foot travel lanes (one westbound lane has a right-turn option), 10-foot shoulders and a five-foot Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk. Construction included the realignment of State Routes 18 and 38 and signal installation at the intersection of the two highways. Flatiron also demolished the existing bridge over the dam and installed a new façade on the dam buttresses.

The new bridge was constructed downstream from the existing bridge and dam, allowing crews to make seismic and operational improvements to the road, and alleviating stress that the original road placed on the aging dam structure. The new bridge ensures year-round access to communities in the Big Bear area by providing much-needed standard lanes and shoulders, and it preserves and highlights the natural and cultural resources around the dam. Construction on the project began in early 2009 and was completed in October 2011.

The project made the list of California Construction's Top 25 Highway Projects in 2010, coming in at number ten.