It’s the busiest traffic corridor in the city, and a group of nonprofits are hoping to make the Milpas Corridor a safer place for pedestrians as a result of a public forum they’re hosting this week. Eastside residents are invited to voice their concerns to city officials.
The Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, or COAST, is teaming up with the Milpas Community Association and PUEBLO to host the forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Franklin Community Center, 1136 E. Montecito St. in Santa Barbara.
Pedestrian safety on the Milpas Corridor has been under scrutiny since the death of 15-year-old Sergio Romero last month. The San Marcos High School student was struck and killed by a truck while crossing the street at Milpas and Ortega the night of Oct. 7.
Whether the intersection warrants a traffic signal was a heated topic of discussion two weeks ago at a meeting held by the Neighborhood Advisory Council, and people still have many questions about the best course of action for the street, according to Caitlin Carlson, a project director for COAST.
“We’re hoping people can leave feeling like they accomplished something,” she said.
City traffic officials and law enforcement are expected to be on hand to answer questions Wednesday night, and City Councilman Randy Rowse and Councilwoman-elect Cathy Murillo are also expected to be in attendance, as well as Santa Barbara Junior High School Principal Lito Garcia.
COAST hopes to discuss pedestrian safety in general on the Eastside, not just at the intersection where Romero was killed.
“What doesn’t get reported are the near-misses,” Carlson said.
The group formed Eastside Walks, a project specific to the pedestrian issues on the Eastside, after receiving grants from the McCune Foundation and The Fund for Santa Barbara. They’ve been working on improving pedestrian life on Milpas since January, and had heard many suggestions about making the area safer for walkers.
The lack of street lights in Eastside neighborhoods and street safety for children going to school were among the concerns brought up.
But since Romero’s death, “we’ve had a flood of calls and emails and people who have really been calling for change,” Carlson said.
Spanish translation, child care and food will be provided for the public at Wednesday’s forum.