Local officials have been waiting on Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty to issue the letter, which should describe the transportation department’s plans on moving forward.
“We’re waiting for the letter, and I think it’ll be clear where we are and where we stand with this whole thing,” said Jim Shivers, spokesman for Caltrans District 5.
SBCAG scheduled the Highway 101 project discussion for Thursday’s meeting even though several members will be absent, but there was no point without an update from Caltrans, public information officer Gregg Hart said.
The meeting was canceled.
“We were surprised the letter didn’t come before last Friday (the deadline for agenda items),” he said. “It probably took time to get approvals in Sacramento.”
The local Caltrans District 5 office is waiting on the letter like everyone else, Shivers said. He doesn’t know when an update is coming, but SBCAG is hoping for January’s meeting.
Local funds and state money are going into the project, which will add a carpool lane in both directions of Highway 101 between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria.
The debate over the project’s design has been fueled by a group of Montecito residents who want to keep the left-side on-ramps and off-ramps for Sheffield Drive and Cabrillo Boulevard. The proposed project would eliminate those and add right-side ramps when the third lane is built.
At the last SBCAG meeting, many people asked the board to keep moving forward with the project, while Montecito Association and Common Sense 101 Coalition representatives said Caltrans hasn’t properly analyzed traffic or accident data.
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal asked Caltrans to discuss the traffic data with Montecito groups before issuing the recommendation letter on a project design. In response, Caltrans met with Montecito groups in a closed-door meeting Nov. 15 at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors conference room.
Caltrans had already met several times with Montecito activists in Sacramento over the last two years.