Wednesday, October 18 , 2017, 1:36 pm | Fair 75º


Local News

Eastside Parents, Residents Call for Improvements to Montecito Street Bridge

A group, many of them parents of students at Cleveland Elementary, gathers with signs urging the city to build wider sidewalks and a barrier between cars and walkers

The narrow bridge on Montecito Street that sits just before the roundabout leading up to Alameda Padre Sierra and Cleveland Elementary School is a key walkway for many who live on Santa Barbara's Eastside.

But it's also a place where many people have had close calls with vehicles driving by, like that of Maria Delgado, who was walking the narrow bridge with her wheelchair-bound son when he was almost struck by a car.

Delgado was one of about 25 women, most of them Cleveland parents and Eastside residents, who gathered to hold up signs Wednesday that read "Fix Our Bridge!" in English and Spanish.

They're calling for the bridge to have wide sidewalks added as well a barrier put up between cars and walkers.

It's a key time for the request because the City Council is scheduled to meet next Monday to decide how to spend $4.4 million in one-time monies, and a host of capital improvement projects across the city, including the Montecito Street Bridge Project, are contenders for the funding.

Among the projects are several other Eastside improvements, including refuge islands for pedestrians and improved LED street lighting. A full list of the projects being considered can be found by clicking here.

The group behind Wednesday's demonstration was COAST, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation.

The cost for construction and design of the project would be $433,000, which COAST board member Eva Inbar acknowledged "is not cheap" but is much needed.

Inbar said she wasn't aware of any pedestrian deaths in the area, but that "we don't want to wait for something to happen."

Anyone who lives in the area has to use the bridge, Inbar said, and the much used bus stop on adjacent Salinas Street also draws people from other streets over the bridge.

"All the projects are good, but we are making the case that this is a real need," she said.

Elena, who asked that her last name not be used and spoke through a translator, said she walks the bridge every day with her three children, who attend Cleveland School.

"I'm afraid I'm going to get run over," she said, adding that she sometimes has to run over the bridge to cross it safely.

Many children live in the neighborhood and close by is Cleveland School, which draws many of the kids across the bridge on foot every morning.

When asked what she would tell the City Council as members look at projects Monday, Delgado had this to say.

"Please listen to us," she said. "We need your help to put in a sidewalk here. It's a danger zone."

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. and will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Translation services will be available.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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