College students returning for classes this month and the next will find some improved — and some new — sidewalks along the streets in Isla Vista.
Construction of the safety improvements began last week in the community adjacent to the UC Santa Barbara campus.
The four-phase project, meant to improve pedestrian mobility in the densely populated area, will first focus on the 6500-6700 block of Del Playa Drive where sidewalks segments are damaged, substandard or missing, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department, which is taking on the project.
Last week, crews began construction on the south side of the 6600 block and plan to complete work in three to five weeks.
The next phase, along the 6500 block, is scheduled to begin next month, with a third and fourth phases following in mid-September and early October.
Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr has worked on the sidewalk project for a number of years, and also helped craft the county’s Isla Vista pedestrian plan that’s set the framework for project priorities.
That 2005 plan was recently updated based on input from stakeholder meetings with Farr’s office, shifting priorities to the Del Playa areas, said Chris Sneddon, deputy public works director.
Some of those completed projects include Pardall Road corridor improvements, El Embarcadero utility undergrounding and streetscape improvements, and sidewalk projects along Sabado Tarde, Del Playa and other roads in the Loop area.
“New sidewalks will enhance safety in the community and make Del Playa more aesthetically pleasing,” Farr said in a statement. “I am delighted that our Public Works Department is able to move so quickly to complete the first phase of this important project.
“My goal is to make Isla Vista safer, more attractive and hospitable for residents in our community.”
Farr has also been working on installing better lighting on Isla Vista streets. Design for new lighting along Camino Corto is under way, and new beach access stair lighting is set for installation along the Camino del Sur walking path early next month.