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US 6 – Santa Clara River Bridge – A Closer Look

US Highway 6, now known as Sierra Highway, crossed the Santa Clara River near Solemint, California. The bridge it originally used, constructed in 1938, is planned to be replaced in the near future. This bridge is one of the oldest remaining in the Santa Clarita area and is the longest span on former US 6 in California. The bridge has remained almost intact from its original construction. The only changes have been minor to the bridge itself. The highway, however, has changed quite a bit. In 1968, Sierra Highway, then State Route 14, was widened to four lanes. A second bridge for northbound traffic was added, with the original bridge being used for southbound traffic.

Presently, Sierra Highway is six lanes wide at the river crossing. As the bridges were built with a four-lane highway in mind, only a narrow shoulder along both directions exists. This condition is one of the reasons the bridges across the Santa Clara River are being replaced.

In March of 2017, I took a trip to inspect in more detail the bridge and the surrounding area. It was nice to see the bridge again, as it brought back a lot of memories. I used to live near the bridge and crossed it almost daily. It will be sad to see it go as it is one of the last remaining pieces of the old highway. So, please, check it out yourself while you still can. I’m not quite sure when the construction will begin, it may have already.

Main Structure:

Side view, from the northern end. Note the small arches along each span.
Southern abutment and wing wall.
Between the 1938 and 1968 spans. Quite a difference between the girders.
Deck view, looking northerly from the south end.
Side view showing the railing, arched spans, and wing wall.

Detailing:

Underside view of the bridge.
Closeup of the west side railing from the south end of the bridge.
View showing the railing at the expansion joint.
Expansion joint that may have moved during an earthquake or from settling.
Expansion joint along the bridge deck.
Deck drain detail.
Remaining section of railroad rail and wire fence embankment protection.

My contribution to the Los Angeles Metro Rail System

Before the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension was opened, I was contacted by Nobuho Nagasawa. She was commissioned to create the artwork for the 1st St and Soto St Metro Gold Line station. She was looking for maps of the area surrounding the 1st / Soto station and found my website on the East Los Angeles Interchange. After searching my collection, I did find two maps that covered that area. The Los Angeles and Alhambra 6′ map sheets from the late 1920’s covered the area she needed with the right resolution. They were then scanned in at high resolution and sent along to her for use. As they were USGS maps, they were within the public domain and easy to transfer.

As I had obtained the maps from a geologist that had marked them up, cleaning them up prior to scanning was essential. I got most of the marks off, but some still remained. It seems they were just enough to “watermark” the maps as indeed from my collection. While not intentional, it did help me identify the maps when I saw them in a video on the opening of the line. In December 2009, I was finally able to see the station in person. The sheer size of the artwork created from these maps was astounding. A portion of a 6′ USGS quad sheet had been transformed into a 30′ x 60′ map going from one side of the station to the other.

The "original" and the artwork. Map sheet being held is the Los Angeles 6' map.

The “original” and the artwork. Map sheet being held is the Los Angeles 6′ map.

Overview of part of the artwork display. Stairs lead to the platform level.

Overview of part of the artwork display. Stairs lead to the platform level.

Western half of the map showing the Los Angeles River and part of downtown.

Western half of the map showing the Los Angeles River and part of downtown.

Central portion of the artwork.

Central portion of the artwork.

Closeup showing some of the marks left on the map. Note the "36" circled in pencil.

Closeup showing some of the marks left on the map. Note the “36” circled in pencil.

Markings for Pliocene Rock (PLIO) and a fault line.

Markings for Pliocene Rock (PLIO) and a fault line.

I wish to thank Nobuho Nagasawa for allowing me the privilege of contributing to the Los Angeles Metro Rail system. It gives me great pleasure to know that something I have in my collection is seeing use in a way I never expected.

My contribution to the Los Angeles Metro Rail System was originally published on Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads

Websites and Journals

In addition to this site, I maintain a few other sites. Please check them out and see what else you might discover.


Updates about this website and other happenings throughout Southern California.

Most of my videos are posted here covering highways, geology, motorcycling, and more.

SoCalRegion Tumblr – A partial mirror of this site’s future posts and pages

Bicycle Tour Journals:

San Francisco to Santa Clarita by mountain bike
My first tour in 2001
506 miles (814 km) over 7 days from June 24, 2001 to June 30, 2001

2009 Tour De Highway 99 – Washington State and the Columbia River Highway
Following old highways and byways
610 miles (981 km) over 11 days from July 31, 2009 to August 10, 2009

A long ride for a slice of pie
Weekend Tour from San Diego, CA to Julian, CA
134 miles (216 km) over 2 days from May 1, 2010 to May 2, 2010

2010 California Central Coast Tour
San Jose to San Luis Obispo along the Big Sur coast
315 miles (507 km) over 8 days from June 12, 2010 to June 19, 2010

Websites and Journals was originally published on Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads