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Roundabouts on Fast Track for Old Town Goleta and Los Carneros-Calle Real Intersection

The proposed Ekwill Street and Fowler Road Extensions Project aims to alleviate congestion and improve safety

Traffic weaves through the roundabout on Coast Village Road, about which Santa Barbara traffic planner Rob Dayton said the city has received great feedback.

Traffic weaves through the roundabout on Coast Village Road, about which Santa Barbara traffic planner Rob Dayton said the city has received great feedback.  (Casey Caldwell / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | updated logo |

Parts of Old Town Goleta soon may see a new approach to dealing with traffic congestion, according to a proposal put forward by city engineers. Four roundabouts are included in the plan that aims to improve connectivity to, from and within southern Old Town as well as to the Santa Barbara Airport

Reducing congestion along Hollister Avenue is also a goal of the project, known as the Ekwill Street and Fowler Road Extensions Project.

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Traffic in the area has become a growing issue through the years, but few improvements have taken place in the project’s target section.

“Virtually no public improvements have been made to the southern portion of Old Town in more than 50 years,” according to the project’s draft environmental impact report.

Click here to view the DEIR online. The public is invited to submit comments on the plan until Oct. 17.

The improvements are bordered by Hollister Avenue to the north, Highway 217 to the east, Fairview Avenue to the west and Goleta Slough to the south and southwest. Planners are striving to extend Ekwill Street and Fowler Road, which will provide east-west routes between Fairview Avenue and Kellogg Avenue.

Four roundabouts are included in the project, with one slated for the Fowler Road and Fairview Avenue intersection and one for the Ekwill Street and Pine Avenue intersection. Two other roundabouts would be installed at the Highway 217 northbound and southbound on- and off-ramps.

Rosemarie Gaglione, the capital improvement program manager for the City of Goleta, said the project will help reduce congestion in the area and provide additional routes to get to Fairview Avenue from Kellogg.

“It will take some of the peak hour trips off of Hollister,” she said.

A free right-turn lane on southern Kellogg Avenue near Hollister also will be added, as well as modified parking.

Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and would last two to three years, and construction would begin simultaneously on all of the components of the plan.

The price tag for the improvements comes in at $19.8 million, $15.9 of which would come from transportation improvement funds — state money pledged before the financial crisis began. The remainder of the project’s costs will come from the City of Goleta’s Transportation Improvement Plan fund.

The two-lane roundabouts that will serve as off-ramps for Highway 217 can handle the volume equivalent to six lanes of traffic, and Gaglione said landscaping in the center of the roundabouts also will be a plus.

The Ekwill-Fowler project has been around since before Goleta became a city a decade ago.

“Some people in Old Town may feel forgotten,” she said. “The thing is, we’re working so furiously behind the scenes on Ekwill-Fowler and San Jose Creek.”

San Jose Creek improvements and improvements to Hollister have had to go forward first to prevent flooding before the Ekwill-Fowler construction could begin.

The city will hold workshops to familiarize the public with the roundabouts.

“A lot of people don’t like roundabouts because the associate them with the old rotary designs back east,” Gaglione said, adding that when roundabouts are large enough and designed properly, they’re very effective.

Another roundabout is slated for the Los Carneros and Calle Real intersection. There, an increasing number of side-impact collisions prompted the city to make the intersection a three-way stop, and it’s planning to install a roundabout at that location as an even safer alternative.

“When there are collisions (in a roundabout), they’re glancing blows,” Gaglione said. “When someone runs a red light, those are very often serious or fatal.”

The group, Cars Are Basic, took a different viewpoint, however.  In a statement sent to Noozhawk this week, the group says that more traffic on Hollister is inevitable as a result of planned development in Goleta and that roundabouts in the area will add to congestion.

“It is interesting the City of Goleta staff doesn’t seem to want to learn from the experiences in the City of Santa Barbara,” the statement said, adding that Santa Barbara’s roundabouts have increased accidents and don’t eliminate congestion at peak traffic hours.

Goleta hopes to begin construction on the Calle Real roundabout in spring 2012, and Ekwill-Fowler construction will begin in 2013.

The plan has not been completed on the Calle Real roundabout, but workshops are planned for that effort as well. That project is a single-lane roundabout and doesn’t require an environmental impact report.

Santa Barbara Traffic Planner Rob Dayton said the city has received great feedback about the Milpas Street and Coast Village Road roundabouts.

“People love it,” he said. “I think people are surprised at how effective the roundabouts are.”

Farther down on Coast Village Road, discussions are ongoing about how to best tame traffic at the Olive Mill and Coast Village Road intersection. Dayton said a roundabout at that location is under discussion. He said that since that intersection has six points of entry, gated by stop signs, a roundabout there could help with traffic flow.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




comments powered by Disqus

» on 09.28.11 @ 02:20 PM

I live on Dearborn Place, on the edge of Oldtown Goleta, and I think this is a great idea.  There are hundreds of people who live on our dead-end street, and it is very inconvenient to access Dearborn from Hollister Ave.  A round-about at the intersection will greatly improve the flow of traffic in the area.  (My only concern is how safe round-abouts are for bicycles; that should definitely be addressed.) Furthermore, the proposed connection of Fowler Road to Kellogg road will alleviate unwanted traffic through the Oldtown area.  Bravo to those who came up with this idea!

» on 09.28.11 @ 05:38 PM

The connection of Fowler road is long over due and applauded, but the round abouts are a cheap way of addressing at grade intersections without stop lights. These are very dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists because there are no means to stop motor vehicles at a regular pace and allow non-motorized traffic a chance.

Round abouts were originally used in non urban areas along highways to eliminate the dangers of at grade interchanges where fast moving highway traffic was involved. The diameter of these circles was very large so as to not impede traffic and allow plenty of merging room to avoid conflicts. The round about was replaced in the 20’s by grade separated interchanges (like clover leafs). As rural highways saw more traffic the freeway was invented and the modern grade separated interchanges we see today came about.

It is true that a small inner urban round about solves a lot of problems with multipoint intersections such as the one mentioned by Goleta Guy. But unfortunately it is at the expense of pedestrian and bicycle safety. Further these interurban circles are far too small in diameter to allow for safe traffic merging and often produce dangerous conflicts. In order to avoid the obvious traffic conflicts the circles would be prohibitively expensive and require a lot of land acquisition or condemnation. It is unfortunate that a town that prides itself on being bicycle friendly would throw the biking public literally under the bus for a cheap over popularized intersection type.

Though these problems have been brought to all south coast government’s attention they have turned a blind eye and I suppose are waiting until people are killed or injured and our tax dollars put at risk by law suits before the folly is realized.

» on 09.28.11 @ 05:48 PM

I lived in Goleta many years ago and now live in Carmel, IN which has gained some national notoriety for roundabouts. They have improved traffic flow here dramatically. Just beware of drivers such as my father-in-law who simply refuse to try to adapt to this new concept and expect everyone to stay out of their way.

» on 09.28.11 @ 06:40 PM

AN50 you seem to have a very well developed understanding of roundabouts. Can you tell us who you are or what your background is?

» on 09.29.11 @ 07:13 PM

They work really well in Santa Barbara. The one at Milpas and 101, near the
Trader Joes, quickly alleviated once of the County’s worst bottlenecks, and did
it safely.

People tell me that the eastern leg of Alameda Padre Serra used to back up hill
two or three blocks at rush hour, before the roundabout went in. Now it’s one
or two cars, tops.

Let’s give it a try in Goleta. Properly designed, they should perform well.

» on 10.01.11 @ 04:53 PM

VoR, I have studied urban planning (including traffic, integration into the natural surroundings, demographics, architecture, logistics, etc) for most of my life. My career has always been in engineering in the manufacturing world, but my heart has always been in architecture.

Most people depend on government to make informed decision regarding projects like this but unfortunately most of the time decisions are political rather than logical. As a car driver, roundabouts are fine in my book, even small ones, but I happen to be an excellent urban driver and scare the crap out of other drivers. But when I’m on a bike, roundabouts are suicide and forget about walking through one. They were never, ever intended for use by pedestrians and pedestrian traffic because it has superior right of way, defeats the purpose of uninterrupted traffic flow (unless the peds are sacrificed under the bus). But here we go launching into this crap because it’s popular or even worse “European”. Good grief, there is a place for these devices and that is seldom where they are located.

The design features I mentioned in my first rant should be looked at closely. I have actually tried to apply high volume inter urban circles as solutions to multipoint intersections, usually in places where existing buildings made new right of way acquisition non existent. They can work but the logistics is quite formidable and usually pedestrian traffic kills the idea in the end.

This is not usually apparent to the average Joe. Actually drawing them out, figuring traffic volumes, lane sizes, turning logistics, adding in non motor vehicles (bikes) and pedestrians takes a lot of time and study. Just driving through a few once in a while does not adequately prepare you for what is involved. The worst mistake you can make is assuming that just because it works one place it will work anywhere else.

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