Many motorists driving through the Carrillo Street corridor in downtown Santa Barbara have found themselves backed up in traffic for several blocks due to a roadway construction project.
But officials say the work centers on much-needed safety improvements for what is the city’s most dangerous intersection.
The construction began last October at Carrillo and Anacapa streets, where crews have been installing traffic-signal conduits for new mast arms that will put the signals out over the street, instead of to the side as they are now.
Extending the lights to where drivers can better see them should greatly “improve signal visibilities and reduce the probable cause of collisions,” said Adam Hendel, the supervising engineer on the project.
The intersection was identified in 2008 as having the highest number of motor vehicles involved collisions in Santa Barbara, Hendel said.
In addition to the new lights, new pedestrian signal indicators with countdown heads will be installed, and sidewalk access ramps are being replaced.
Drainage improvements are also part of the project.
Because of construction on the corners at the intersection, a through-vehicle lane on Anacapa Street has been closed, pinching southbound traffic.
Pedestrian detours have been put in to route people around the construction, and city staff are monitoring traffic on Anacapa and Carrillo streets to adjust signal timing to reduce traffic backups as much as possible, he said.
Hendel said he expects the project will be complete by mid-March.