Starting on Monday, Goleta capital improvements manager Rosemarie Gaglione has a little advice for people who may find their commute slowed by a new construction project.
“Breathe deep, and this will be much better when it’s done,” she told Noozhawk last week.
That’s because crews will be working to replace the Los Carneros Road bridge that crosses over the Union Pacific railroad tracks on the south side of Highway 101. The project means the southbound freeway entrance and exit ramps will be closed for the next year as the deteriorating bridge is replaced.
The closure will only affect the southbound ramps, and the bridge itself will be replaced one half at a time. For a large part of the construction, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
Signage has been placed along the freeway letting motorists know about the closures. Gaglione also has been working with city public information officer Valerie Kushnerov to get the word out.
If people have flexibility with their work schedules, Gaglione said, they’re encouraged to travel outside of the peak times, which usually are between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. on weekdays. Commuters also should consider carpooling, if possible.
“Try to be patient,” she said. “It can be really frustrating, but just remember when you’re driving through that there are people working,” and slow down.
The bridge needs repair, and even though it’s safe to use, must be replaced before it deteriorates any further, Gaglione said.
While the Los Carneros ramp has a “pretty healthy number of cars that get on there, it’s nothing compared to Fairview (Avenue),” she said.
The section of the bridge that crosses over Highway 101 belongs to Caltrans, while the portion over the railroad belongs to the city.
The bridge was built in the 1960s and its condition is worsening.
Three of Goleta’s bridges were built with the same material as the Los Carneros overpass, includingt the Winchester Canyon Overcrossing, which has been replaced, and the Hollister Avenue Bridge, which will be replaced after the San Jose Creek Project is constructed in Old Town.
In addition to a new Los Carneros Road bridge, traffic flow is expected to improve with a dedicated right-turn lane installed for the southbound ramp. Bike lanes will be added in both directions and a sidewalk erected on the west side of the bridge.
The city was able to get most of the bridge replacement cost funding from the state.
“We’re excited to get started, but it will be frustrating for users of the roadway,” Gaglione said. “We’re trying to get it done as soon as we can.”
Also in the works is another project that will close the northbound freeway entrance ramp at Fairview Avenue so Caltrans can improve the capacity of two large culverts along Las Vegas and San Pedro creeks. Gaglione said the project is intended to reduce flooding on nearby Carlo and Vega drives.
The Caltrans project will first close Fairview’s northbound ramps, with the southbound ramps closed next year after the Los Carneros project is completed.
Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the nearly 500-member business organization is “very supportive" of the transportation improvements.
“Part of becoming our own city was the desire to control our own destiny and upgrade our road system,” she said.
Still, while the project is needed and necessary, she said “it is definitely going to hurt for a while.”
“UCSB has a history of supporting transportation projects in this area, including the recent San Jose Creek channel construction on Highway 217,” said George Foulsham, UCSB’s director of news and media relations.
“We will be working closely with the City of Goleta to minimize any possible impact to campus as a result of the Los Carneros bridge construction.”
Click here for more information about the project.