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Local News

Gaviota Curve May See Slight Change of Course in Its Future

With an accident rate five times the state average, mile-long section of Highway 101 is targeted for Caltrans safety realignment

The Gaviota Curve, as the stretch of Highway 101 is known where it bends sharply north from the Gaviota coast, is traversed by thousands of cars and trucks each day, many of them North County commuters. But the angle is a little too sharp and the median bears the scars from numerous vehicles that failed to negotiate the turn.

The one-mile stretch of highway has a collision rate five times the statewide average for similar locations, according to Caltrans, which is prompting state officials to pursue a $6 million project to rebuild the Gaviota Curve.

The proposed project’s main goal is to reduce the number of collisions by replacing the existing “compound curves” that progressively tighten with a single radius curve designed for 65 mph use, Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said.

“This is a heavily used corridor, not only by commuters but truckers and many, many travelers,” he said. “We’re simply trying to make this stretch of highway safer and easier to navigate for everyone.”

During the course of a three-year study, Caltrans found that 44 accidents occurred at the Gaviota Curve site, including 17 accidents with recorded injuries and one fatal collision.

According to Caltrans, the increased danger associated with the location stems from drivers overcorrecting after failing to properly steer through the two curves as they sharpen. The result is often a collision with the concrete barrier in the highway’s median.

Caltrans anticipates construction to last about a year after the anticipated March 2016 start date. During that time, the existing cut slope in the hillside adjacent to the northbound lanes would be recessed 75 feet.

Shivers said nothing will be finalized until all input is received and the community has had ample opportunity to have its voice heard.

The public can review a Mitigated Negative Declaration/Initial Study regarding this project at these locations:

» Goleta Branch Library, 500 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta

» California Department of Parks and Recreation (Channel Coast District), 10 Refugio Beach Road

» Buellton Library, 140 W. Highway 246 in Buellton.

» Caltrans District 5 Office, 50 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

» Click here to view the report online.

Noozhawk intern Jordon Niedermeier can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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