The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday narrowly approved intersection improvements for Figueroa and De la Vina streets that will be funded largely by a federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant.
The council voted 4-3 to accept the grant and award a $271,443 contract to Lash Construction, which was the lowest bidder
Scroll to the bottom to see the intersection plan.
The company currently is working on the Carrillo and Anacapa streets intersection.
Pedestrians can walk one block in either direction to cross at an intersection with a traffic signal, Rowse said.
Traffic engineer Derek Bailey said that De la Vina Street is a major artery into the downtown area, and staff planned these improvements to make it safer for pedestrians but not impede traffic.
Construction crews will start installing curb extensions and safety lighting poles in April, and will keep at least one lane open at all times on De la Vina.
The total cost will be $398,161, with the federal grant covering $326,300 of construction costs.
The intersection’s crash history has made city leaders and staff examine some changes to the intersection. However, Bailey said, “the crashes that led us to this point won’t be prevented by the curb extensions.”
Two-thirds of the pedestrian-vehicle crashes are on the “downstream” southbound side of the street.
Since De la Vina is a one-way street, drivers on Figueroa Street often only look “upstream” when crossing and then hit pedestrians, Bailey said.
The other third are caused by drivers hitting pedestrians directly in front of them, who they don’t’ see because they’re only looking toward oncoming traffic.
The crosswalks will not be marked at the intersection even after the improvements are installed so pedestrians aren’t given a false sense of security, Bailey said. The goal of the extensions is to make pedestrians more visible and give them better views as they prepare to cross the busy downtown streets.
The council also approved the purchase of two electric Trikkes for police patrol officers and beat coordinators, using $8,000 in donations from the Santa Barbara Police Foundation, and a police canine using $24,700 from the Police K-9 Unit Trust Fund.
The money to Mission Canines — which the city has used in the past — will also pay for related equipment and training, according to the city staff report.
Rowse did ask police to find a better name than Trikkes for their newest patrol vehicle.
“It doesn’t sound very intimidating,” he said.