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Safety Improvements Set for Highway 101 West of Goleta after Spate of Fatal Wrecks

Median barrier will be extended, and rumble strips will be added along the roadway shoulders

A notorious stretch of Highway 101 west of Goleta will be getting some safety upgrades over the summer after a long history of high-profile traffic fatalities.

Construction crews will be installing a new median barrier and rumble strips on the highway’s shoulders between the west end of Cathedral Oaks Road and just east of Dos Pueblos Creek, said Jim Shivers, spokesman for Caltrans District 5, which includes Santa Barbara County.

That section of highway has been the site of multiple fatal accidents over the years, including a July 2013 head-on collision that killed an Orange County woman when a northbound flatbed truck pulling a trailer veered over the median and struck the southbound pickup truck she was driving.

“The idea with the median barrier is that it reduces or eliminates ‘run off the road’-type accidents, as well as head-on collisions,” Shivers said.

As traffic volumes have increased, Caltrans has been installing more median barriers, he said.

The rumble strips, which will be installed on the right side of the slow lane, or the outside lane, generate a noise and vibrations when a vehicle’s tires cross them, Shivers said.

“Typically, when we implement a safety project, it’s in response to a history of accidents in that location,” he said.

Shivers said the stretch of highway had nine accidents between December 2011 and Jan. 29, 2014, a number that is about a third of the statewide average, “but we are pursuing this project in the interest of public safety and growing traffic volume.”

Construction is expected to begin in May and be completed in September.

The project is just one of 32 taking place throughout California to improve highways and bridges, and create jobs. The total cost of the projects is around $138 million.

“From one end of the state to the other, transportation projects are providing good-paying jobs while at the same time reducing traffic congestion for the people and businesses in California,” Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty said in a statement issued Thursday.

The allocations include approximately $25 million from Proposition 1B, a transportation bond approved by voters in 2006. The remaining $113 million is coming from assorted transportation accounts funded by state and federal dollars, Shivers said.

About $1.1 million of that will go toward the Highway 101 safety improvements in Santa Barbara County, he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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