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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 10:40 pm | Fair 50º


Residents Get Closer Look at Plans for Highway 101 Overpass in Goleta

The three options under consideration draw questions and concerns, particularly about funding and traffic patterns

Dozens of residents turned up Wednesday night to check out the city’s plans to install an overpass over Highway 101 in western Goleta.

It has been an issue since before Goleta became a city in 2006, but it came to a head in 2008, when a 14-year-old El Encanto Heights resident was hit and killed while trying to cross the freeway on foot. The stretch between Goleta’s last exit, Winchester Canyon Road, and the exit at Storke Road spans about two miles, and it leaves few options for bicyclists and pedestrians trying to cross.

Printouts showing each of the city’s three options were on display Wednesday, and the public got the chance to take a closer look and ask questions.

The overpass would include an 8-foot-wide bike lane and 6-foot-wide, raised sidewalks. But it also would provide access over the highway for vehicles, drawing disapproval from several residents.

“We thought it was just going to be a bike lane and a pedestrian lane,” Goleta resident Reginald Portier said. “That’d be good enough for us.”

All three of the options have traffic crossing Highway 101 from Hollister Avenue, but where they empty out on the north side of the highway differs. One option ends up on Brandon Drive near Calle Real, and the next on San Rossan and Calle Real. The final option puts traffic out near Baker Lane and Calle Real. The project wouldn’t allow for entry or exit to the highway.

Goleta would like to see the project unfold over the next five years, and based on the cost of the project, that time gap could be needed to come up with the funding.

Construction estimates range from $22 million to $41 million. A large part of the project funding is slated to come from Measure A money, the sales tax measure approved by voters in 2008. But with sales-tax revenue on the decline, it’s unclear how much Measure A money would be available.

“I don’t think we can be absolutely sure the money is going to be there,” said Councilwoman Margaret Connell, who added that the project would take years to get off the ground regardless.

Some of the funding could come from developer impact fees, and the city of Goleta will be working with Caltrans and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments for other funding options.

More development is in the pipeline for the city, Connell said, and an overpass could help take some of the pressure off the city’s main thoroughfares. “Having this overpass would ameliorate traffic over on Hollister,” she said.

But where that traffic would be rerouted was a concern to some residents.

Lee Speshyock, who lives near one of the options that would put the overpass onto Brandon Drive, said more traffic on the two-lane road, which is lined with homes, would be a mistake.

“This would just increase access when you don’t really need it,” he said.

Project manager Rosemarie Gaglione said the option of a bike- and pedestrian-only bridge had been considered, but that a vehicle option would be more cost-effective. She said a pedestrian and bike bridge would cost about $300 per square foot, while a bridge with both as well as vehicle access would cost $200 per square foot.

Assuming the city continues to build out, she said, “Storke and Hollister is just going to be gridlocked. We still need that vehicle bridge.”

Longtime Winchester Canyon resident Daniel Durbin wasn’t so sure. “I’m not convinced of the need for a roadway,” he said.

Durbin also said he would like to see the issue get back to what he believed was the original concern: keeping people from crossing the highway on foot.

“People have died crossing that part of the highway,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Alternatives under review for a new Highway 101 Overcrossing Project in western Goleta
Alternatives under review for a new Highway 101 Overcrossing Project in western Goleta. (City of Goleta illustration)

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