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Goleta Construction at Hollister-Storke Intersection Giving Pedestrians the Runaround

Employees of nearby companies say blocked-off crosswalks, road work forcing them to jaywalk across busy Hollister Avenue

Several construction projects have closed down the pedestrian access at the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, causing some employees of nearby companies to jaywalk across the busy street during their lunch hour.
Several construction projects have closed down the pedestrian access at the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, causing some employees of nearby companies to jaywalk across the busy street during their lunch hour. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Multiple construction projects at the corner of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue in Goleta are creating traffic jams and peril for some pedestrians.

The City of Goleta and construction crews have blocked off pedestrian crossings on the east side of Storke, complicating things for employees of nearby companies trying to walk to Camino Real Marketplace, banks and other businesses.

“The only way to to get there is to dart across Hollister, which isn’t exactly entertaining,” said 70-year-old Michael Inbar, who works at a high-tech center off Castilian Drive, less than a mile away.

“I wasn’t exactly contributing to my own life expectancy.”

Employees are running across the street because their typical route is blocked and there is no other nearby place to cross.

On Thursday, dozens of people were observed dodging traffic to get to the other side of Hollister during the lunch hour. Motorists at times appeared confused; some slowed down for the pedestrians, others stopped in the middle of the four-lane street to let them by, and other cars just zoomed past.

The pedestrian complaints come amid major construction work in western Goleta. The city has approved six projects for the intersection of Storke and Hollister — all happening simultaneously.

Across Hollister from Camino Real Marketplace, developers are building Hollister Village, which includes the installation of a new entrance and traffic signal. Construction crews also are extending Hollister’s eastbound left-turn lanes toward Storke.

Goleta also has approved Storke’s widening and restriping to provide a third northbound lane from Hollister to the Highway 101 southbound entrance ramp.

This week has been particularly difficult for Goleta travelers. The traffic lights at the Hollister and Storke intersection went dark so crews could reconfigure the signal islands. The work goes from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., with lane closures starting at 7 p.m.

Pedestrians cross Hollister Avenue through lunch-hour traffic near Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. Construction projects have blocked foot traffic at the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue. Click to view larger
Pedestrians cross Hollister Avenue through lunch-hour traffic near Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. Construction projects have blocked foot traffic at the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

So far this week, traffic has been backed up all the way to the Glen Annie Road freeway exit ramp, across from the Mobil gas station on the north side of Highway 101.

The traffic signals have been turned off completely, and then turned on intermittently, with motorists merging into one lane and then taking turns to advance.

The city has asked that people “avoid this intersection” this week.

But pedestrians who work in the office parks east of Storke Road say they have no choice but to avoid the intersection — because there is no crosswalk. Instead they’re racing across Hollister, near Kmart, and hoping for the best.

Inbar, who visits Starbucks about three times a week, said crossing the street is like running a relay race. He believes officials dropped the ball.

“What I believe they did is typical bureaucracy,” he said. “I think there are many solutions, but the fact of the matter is they don’t want to. The really don’t want to.”

Several construction projects have shut off pedestrian access at the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, causing some workers in the area to jaywalk across Hollister. Click to view larger
Several construction projects have shut off pedestrian access at the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, causing some workers in the area to jaywalk across Hollister. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Valerie Kushnerov, Goleta’s public information officer, said the city is considering modifications to pedestrian routes at some point, and is looking to expedite the construction schedule to free up pedestrian access in some areas.

The sooner the better for Baldeep Sanghera, who works as a hardware engineer in the area. He said he walks to lunch almost every day, to Camino Real Marketplace or to the Storke Plaza shopping center on the other side.

Since the intersection is closed, he said he’s been forced to race across the street.

Recently, he nearly got a jaywalking ticket for it. A police officer stopped him and others when they were about halfway across Hollister in front of Kmart.

Sanghera said the officer told him that they weren’t allowed to be standing there, and Sanghera responded that he wouldn’t be standing there if there had been a place for him to cross the street.

“I am no expert on construction, but I don’t think that it is a very safe way to handle it,”​ he said.

“It’s a busy intersection. It is very dangerous for people on foot. I understand they have a job to do, but they shouldn’t be putting people in danger while they do it.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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