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Portion of Southbound Highway 101’s New Third Lane Opens Early

The full lane will open after the bridges are widened over Milpas Street

A portion of the new southbound Highway 101 third lane opened Friday, a year and a half early as part of the Highway 101 Operational Improvements between Milpas Street and Hot Springs Road.

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Santa Barbara County Association of Governments Executive Director Jim Kemp held a news conference Friday morning to let motorists know that freeway congestion just got a little better.

The new lane, which runs from the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp at Milpas Street to a half-mile past Cabrillo Boulevard, is an interim improvement to help improve the flow of traffic on the freeway. The full third lane will open after the Highway 101 bridges are widened over Milpas Street. The opening of the partial third lane follows the completion of the widening of Sycamore Creek bridge.

“In addition to easing a key constriction point from cars entering Highway 101 at Milpas Street, this new third lane will also encourage more people to use the freeway to travel through the area,” Carbajal said. “By opening this section of the new lane early, our hope is that congestion on local streets will also be reduced.”

“Crews have been working overtime for the last few months in an effort to open this improvement before the holiday season,” Kemp said. “Last year, we were able to open the Montecito roundabout three weeks early. This year, we are able to open a portion of the new third land on southbound Highway 101 early.”

“The timing of the opening of this partial third lane is perfect for the holiday season. Now, more than ever, we encourage residents to shop locally and support our economy,” Carbajal added. “This new third lane, along with the northbound Highway 101 improvements already open, makes it easier than ever to get in and out of Santa Barbara. I am also looking forward to the new landscaping for this area. That project will start early next year and should further beautify the entrance to Santa Barbara.”

Upcoming work for the Highway 101 widening project includes ongoing bridge widening over Milpas Street and work on the Cacique Street undercrossing.

The Highway 101 Operational Improvements between Milpas Street and Hot Springs Road mark one of the largest projects undertaken by Caltrans in Santa Barbara County. The project includes the reconstruction of two major interchanges, six new or improved bridges, freeway widening, and improvements to local streets and pedestrian pathways. The $53 million construction and landscaping project is funded by Proposition 1B and $13 million Measure D dollars.

Having started in July 2008, overall construction is anticipated to take four years. The majority of construction will occur behind concrete barriers during daytime work hours; some nighttime lane closures will occur.

For more information, click here or call 888.SB.ROADS.

— Kirsten Ayars is the community outreach liaison for SBRoads.com.

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