Locals frustrated by tourists visiting iconic 'Big Little Lies' bridge

An influx of visitors has created traffic along a popular highway.

July 17, 2019, 9:02 PM

It’s the backdrop in the opening sequence of the HBO hit "Big Little Lies," and has become a coveted prize for those who want that Instagram-worthy photo. Now an influx of visitors, and their bad behavior, is angering locals who live in the area.

Nestled in scenic Monterey County, California, the Bixby Creek Bridge, part of Highway 1, curves above a canyon in Big Sur, and is known for its unique architectural design.

“It’s a crown jewel of the national byways program,” said Stan Russell, executive director of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce. “The highway itself is a destination.”

The bridge can be seen in different parts of pop culture. In 1969, it made its TV debut in the series “Then Came Bronson,” and it has been featured in the popular video game “Grand Theft Auto V.”

Though some on social media are now blaming “Big Little Lies” for an influx of tourism, officials in the Big Sur area say that's not the case.

The large number of tourists is probably because this year is the first complete summer since the roads reopened after the Mud Creek landslide, a representative from the California Department of Transportation told ABC News. A landslide in May 2017 was so big that it created 15 new acres of coastline.

During the July 4th weekend, a video on twitter showed bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting to cross the bridge.

Russell, who has been involved with the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, told ABC News that traffic getting to the bridge has been a problem for years. He did say, however, that more recently, bad behavior of the tourists is a bigger issue.

“We have a problem with people relieving themselves along the highway,” said Russell. “People are walking on the bridge to take pictures…People do that stuff all the time to get that iconic shot.”

In May, an Instagram account called @bigsurhatesyou was created by an anonymous local in the area, publicly shaming visitors for behaving badly. It has since been changed to @bigsureducates, urging people to follow road signs in the area and educating them on how trespassing to get that picture perfect shot is a crime.

There is now a "Big Sur Pledge" to promote the safety of residents and visitors in the area. Earlier this month, the Monterey County Sheriff’s office immediately took down a large yellow sign from the Bixby Creek Bridge with the message, “Overtourism is killing Big Sur.”

“Overtourism is exaggerated because we don’t have the infrastructure,” he said. “I want to message Reese Witherspoon and tell her 'Big Little Lies' isn’t solely responsible for this uptick of visitation at Bixby Bridge.. this has been an ongoing issue for years given to countless car commercials and others using the iconic bridge in media.”

As part of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Russell educates visitors and the community on how to preserve the area’s scenic beauty, how to travel safely along Highway 1, and how to behave when visiting Big Sur.

“Respect and obey the laws,” Russell told ABC. “Pull off the highways for a safer look and respect the land.”