Tuesday, April 24 , 2018, 1:37 am | Fog/Mist 53º


Local News

Caltrans Signals Willingness to Work with Santa Barbara on Restriping, Ownership of Cliff Drive

The City Council will discuss on Tuesday a plan to increase safety by reducing the road from four lanes to three and adding bike lanes

The five-mile stretch of road that makes up Highway 225 may be that much closer to being owned and maintained by the City of Santa Barbara, according to a letter sent Wednesday from Caltrans. In the meantime, the road may be restriped with fewer lanes and bike lanes.

Highway 225 spans from Montecito and Castillo streets on Santa Barbara’s Lower Westside and snakes around SBCC, blending into Cliff Drive and ending where Las Positas Road meets Highway 101.

The city has been working for several years to come to terms with Caltrans to purchase the span of road, bringing it back into local jurisdiction. Caltrans’ mission is to focus on traffic movement, with less priority on pedestrians and neighborhoods. The city wants to see more improvements in line with the surrounding community.

Cost has been an issue, though, and Caltrans has offered the city $1 million to assume control of the road, but the city believes that amount is about $300,000 short of what’s needed. An additional $355,000 per year also would be needed to fund ongoing maintenance.

But the letter issued Wednesday signals a willingness to work with the city on the issue.

“Caltrans agrees that State Route 225 should eventually be a city facility and looks forward to working with your staff on the details of relinquishment,” Caltrans District Director Rich Krumholz stated in the letter, addressed to Mayor Helene Schneider.

In the meantime, according to the letter, the organization will be working with the city to restripe the road to include fewer lanes — but not before approval from the City Council, which is set to hear the item Tuesday night. Reducing the road from four lanes to three while adding bike lanes in either direction will be up for discussion.

Browning Allen, the transportation, streets and parking manager for the City of Santa Barbara, told Noozhawk that the change in lane configuration would be between Meigs and Loma Alta on Cliff Drive.

“The collision history on the stretch of Cliff is not higher than the state average, but the addition of the center left turn lane will make it safer for left-turning vehicles,” he said. “The addition of bike lanes in each direction is an added benefit once the center left turn lane is added.”

In April, council members listened as Mesa residents implored them to regain local control of the road.

“You basically have a highway bisecting the Mesa,” resident Tom Ochsner said. “Cliff Drive, as a neighborhood street, needs a lot of help.”

As a matter of policy, most of the city leaders agreed that the road should be brought into Santa Barbara’s street system. Cost remained an issue, however, and the council voted 5-2 to proceed with exploring whether the state may come down in price for the stretch of road.

The City Council will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >