The advisory committee for Measure A, the voter-approved transportation funding initiative, strongly supports widening Highway 101 and is urging the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments to move forward with the long-awaited project.
The board voted unanimously Wednesday to make a series of recommendations to SBCAG, which is expected to decide the future of the Highway 101 carpool lane project on Thursday.
The project, which involves adding a third lane for carpools in each direction, is expected to cost $345 million to $455 million. A good portion of that funding would come from Measure A funds and local gas-tax funds.
Caltrans wants to finalize the environmental impact report without changing the scope of the project at all, Director Malcolm Dougherty told SBCAG in a December letter.
Advisory members strongly support widening Highway 101 and voted to accept the conclusions in the Caltrans letter, according to SBCAG public information officer Gregg Hart.
Doughery said left-hand ramps should not be included in any design and that the high-occupancy vehicle (carpool) lane should span the entire length of the project through Montecito.
The Measure A advisory committee doesn’t want the project’s environmental documents to be expanded and include local projects — as proposed by Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider — and wants Caltrans to certify the existing environmental impact report as expeditiously as possible, Hart said.
Caltrans project manager Scott Eades made a presentation to committee members, who discussed the issue for the better part of 2½ hours, Hart said. Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson, an SBCAG board member, also attended Wednesday’s meeting.
SBCAG is expected to decide how to respond to Caltrans, and the future of the project, at Thursday’s meeting in Santa Maria.