Pfeiffer Canyon Emergency Bridge Replacement

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Caltrans District 5/59

Project Name
Pfeiffer Canyon Emergency Bridge Replacement

Construction Inspection


  • TAMC, Transportation Excellence Award
  • Caltrans, Excellence In Partnering Gold Award
  • APWA, Monterey Bay Chapter, Project of the Year Award, Structures
  • California Transportation Foundation (CTF),  Project of the Year Award, Special Recognition
  • APWA, National, National Public Works Project of the Year Award, Disaster or Emergency Construction
  • AASHTO, America’s Transportation Award, Best Use of Technology and Innovation


During the heavy rainstorms in January 2017, the hillside was saturated under the bridge, which caused a mudslide moving one of the columns out of alignment. After investigation of the damage, Caltrans closed the road to all vehicle traffic. The bridge collapsed the following week. Caltrans deemed the bridge damaged beyond repair; it was demolished immediately.

This $24M emergency project demolished and replaced the existing bridge on State Route 1. The 315-foot-long, single-span steel bridge consisted of three 14-foot-and-3-inches tall steel girders requiring on-site assembly. Launched from one abutment to the other, this process required the erection of a center tall temporary support tower to facilitate the launching of the girders. Precise field surveying was required for the placement of the girders. Eliminating structural vulnerability to future slide activity, the design avoids the use of support columns.

The new bridge includes 12-foot lanes and 5-foot outside shoulders, making it accessible for all travelers.

The project also involved the construction of temporary shoring, cast-in-drilled-hole (CIDH) piles, deep footings and abutment walls, barrier rail, painting of the steel girders, and joint seal assembly. This project was administered in accordance with Caltrans methods and procedures.

The newly completed State Route 1 Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge was built and opened to the public in eight months when a project of this magnitude would normally take eight years. Due to the severe impact to the community of losing this bridge, Caltrans was able to accelerate the project by ordering the steel in advance, accelerating the design, and using an innovative way to launch the assembled steel girder bridge into place.

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