Friday, May 25 , 2018, 7:32 pm | A Few Clouds 62º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara Council Hears Update on Related Highway 101 Widening Projects

Santa Barbara City Council members seemed encouraged Tuesday after hearing an update on the Highway 101 widening project, most of which pertained to three side traffic projects that could come to fruition at the same time.

Still facing a $150 million funding gap for the South Coast Highway 101 High Occupancy Vehicle Lane Project, officials called on partners at Caltrans and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments to better collaborate to complete the years-long project.

After all, the longer the widening project takes to get going, the more money the city and other agencies will have to find to finish the job.

The same goes for related projects, including the Union Pacific Bridge Replacement at Cabrillo Boulevard and improvements to the Olive Mill and San Ysidro Road interchanges.

Tony Harris, the consultant hired to oversee the project designed to lessen congestion in the heavily traveled corridor between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, told the council that all parties needed to sign memorandums of understanding outlining each of their roles before obtaining proper environmental documents and, subsequently, more funding from to-be-determined federal and state sources.

He said the project couldn’t afford more delays.

Putting off the project costs about $15 million per year, said Stephen VanDenburgh, SBCAG deputy director of programming and project delivery.

SBCAG already estimates the project could delayed two years while the Santa Barbara-to-Montecito portion is tied up in court, since two groups challenged the project’s environmental impact report as “flawed” and incomplete for failing to address its redirection of congestion onto local intersections and other mitigation measures.

The widening project also has unresolved flood-control concerns with the Carpinteria Creek bridge replacements.

The entire widening project is expected to cost about $435 million and nearly all the funding is local so far, with $140 million from Santa Barbara County’s Measure A and another $135 million from 15 years worth of the county’s share of gas taxes.

Harris suggests designing the project to a 35 percent level instead of designing and permitting the entire project piece by piece. Doing basic engineering design work for the entire corridor at once could attract state and federal funding sources, he said, and completion of that would occur over the next 12 to 18 months.

While Harris works to secure remaining funds, he’s also tracking three projects that also lack funding.

The San Ysidro interchange falls under jurisdiction of the county, but city transportation planner Rob Dayton was able to provide updates on the other projects that are on separate but parallel tracks to highway widening.

The Union Pacific Bridge Replacement at Cabrillo Boulevard has been stalled while agencies work to appease the railroad company, which has thus far disliked SBCAG’s proposed replacements and realignments for the 100-year-old bridge.

Dayton said that project is estimated to cost $28.5 million in 2019 and involves moving highway ramps and widening the bridge tunnels on Cabrillo, all in conference with local agencies.

At the Olive Mill interchange, a study showed a traffic signal would not work but a roundabout could. That project costs $5 million to $10 million and is inside the city and county jurisdiction, Dayton said.

“We need to be advancing all of them forward,” he said.

Public speakers said they were glad the council wasn’t ignoring side projects, but — like council members — wondered where the money would come from.

Councilmen Bendy White and Gregg Hart sparred over whether widening was a good thing, with White worrying about impacts on local roads.

“I think this is an enormously complicated project that takes an awful lot of money,” said Hart, who’s also part of SBCAG. “It’s time to turn the page.”

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >