Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 1:41 am | Fair 45º


Curb Extensions Debate Intersects at Cabrillo and Anacapa Streets

Santa Barbara council approves project revision that includes mast-arm traffic signals

What’s typically a quick consent agenda item turned into a two-hour discussion about curb extensions at Tuesday’s Santa Barbara City Council meeting.

Five members voted to approve additional funding for a design firm to redo plans for improvements to the intersection of Carrillo and Anacapa streets. The Historic Landmarks Commission initially approved a plan to place curb extensions, or “bulb-outs,” on the East Carrillo Street side corners of the intersection, but reconsidered its decision and voted to support a plan with mast-arm traffic signals instead. The devices will reach out over the street for enhanced visibility to drivers.

In the end, another $20,000 was authorized for the design contract to redo the project, for a total of up to $52,725. Construction funds come from the streets fund and a state grant, Public Works director Christine Anderson said.

The Carrillo/Anacapa project began in 2008, as there are more accidents there than any other city-owned intersection, Anderson said. Between 2004 and 2007, there were 49 collisions within 75 feet of the intersection, 33 of which were broadside collisions, according to the city staff report.

Twenty-eight accidents included a red-light violation, which has pointed the finger at poor signal visibility. Penfield & Smith, a Santa Barbara engineering firm, presented a plan with curb extensions on two of the four corners and mast-arm signals across Carrillo Street in both directions.

During council discussion and public comment, debate surged over whether the project should include the curb extensions. They’re typically supported as a pedestrian safety measure, which this project doesn’t specifically aim to address.

Council members are divided on the concept of bulb-outs, but the majority sided with the Historic Landmarks Commission as both plans would address the traffic problem.

“Visibility is just as well addressed with the mast-arms,” said Councilman Dale Francisco, who noted that the revised plan is also less expensive.

Mayor Helene Schneider and Councilman Grant House voted against the revision, and Schneider worried about the proliferation of mast-arm signals throughout the downtown corridor.

The Transportation & Circulation Committee supported the original concept, and two of its members spoke in favor of maintaining curb extensions in the design.

Total project costs will go down $94,000 with the elimination of the curb extensions, although redesign costs will be $25,000. Grant money cannot be used for the redesign, officials said.

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

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