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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 6:44 am | Fair 42º


Goleta’s New In-House Traffic Engineer Focuses on Busy Hollister Avenue Intersection

Congestion issues at the construction-heavy area of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue will be the top priority, city says

Goleta has hired a traffic engineer and her first priority will be the congested intersection at Hollister Avenue and Storke Road.
Goleta has hired a traffic engineer and her first priority will be the congested intersection at Hollister Avenue and Storke Road.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

The city of Goleta has hired its first in-house traffic engineer, and her top priority is monitoring the circulation at the ever-busy Storke Road and Hollister Avenue intersection.

Goleta officials approved adding the position during budget talks earlier this year — long before traffic congestion became a larger issue at that construction-heavy intersection — but the engineer came on in recent weeks, city spokeswoman Valerie Kushnerov said.

Just in time, too, since residents are complaining more about the challenges.

The intersection is smack in the middle of the mixed-use development Hollister Village, the Rincon Palms hotel project, widening projects along Hollister between Glen Annie and Santa Felicia, installation of a storm drain pipe, and more.

Nearby Camino Real Marketplace is also known to draw lots of vehicles.

In a roadwork update late last week, the city apologized for an apparent malfunctioning traffic signal the preceding Saturday, which coincided with the opening of the nearby Ice in Paradise rink off Storke Road.

A technician was on site Saturday to monitor traffic signal operations to make necessary corrections, with officials believing the controller was responsible for the previous problem.

Improvements at Storke Road and Hollister started last fall, with some projects funded by the city because they fall into Goleta’s general plan, and others paid for by developers as part of project mitigations and improvements.

Projects include lengthening turn lanes, adding a lane on northbound Storke north of Hollister, adding a signal at South Glen Annie Road and installing a controller to synchronize three signals. 

Kushnerov said residents have expressed concern related to backups in lanes traveling northbound on Storke to Highway 101 southbound onramp, since historically the far right lane was a dedicated right-hand turn lane from Hollister.

When changes are made to the onramp — two right-hand turn lanes and bicycle lane improvements — vehicles traveling north on Storke won’t have to wait for a freeway lane by using only the far right lane.

“We do recognize that it’s not the most ideal situation at this point,” Kushnerov said.

Because the city is working with Caltrans on the southbound 101 ramp, it can’t control the timeframe. Caltrans is also planning continued overnight closures this week in both directions of Highway 101 from Winchester Canyon Road to Los Carneros Road for resurfacing — beginning Monday night through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. — slated to be done by February 2016.

The city traffic update lamented that some completed and planned improvements haven’t lined up as originally engineered.

Kushnerov noted the in-house traffic engineer will work on the Storke/Hollister intersection as well as other areas, saying the hire wasn’t “reactive” but pre-planned. The engineer, Heba El-Guendy, will take an oath of office at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. 

In an unrelated traffic event, a power interruption occurred at the intersection last week due to rain, thunder and lightning, which caused the South Glen Annie traffic signal to flash red instead of changing properly.

A contracted city engineer fixed that issue within an hour, but the Highway 101 and Calle Real traffic signal continued flashing last Thursday because it’s Caltrans’ signal.

“Again, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to you,” the city said in a statement.

“We are working diligently to manage and improve traffic circulation in the Storke/Hollister area. Thank you for your patience.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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