Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 5:51 pm | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

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Santa Barbara ABR Enthusiastically Backs Cliff Drive Roundabout

City project wins wide support from panel, despite residents' concerns about safety

A plan to replace stop signs at the intersection of Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara, above, with a roundabout got a favorable reaction Tuesday from the city’s Architectural Board of Review.
A plan to replace stop signs at the intersection of Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara, above, with a roundabout got a favorable reaction Tuesday from the city’s Architectural Board of Review. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara this week moved a step closer toward building a roundabout at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road.

The city's Architectural Board of Review unanimously approved the city's project, embracing the design, while acknowledging concerns about traffic speeds and pedestrian and bicycle safety.

"To me this seems like an exceptionally good design," said board chairman Kirk Gradin.

Santa Barbara wants to build a roundabout and intersection that blends vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle use.

The new intersection will feature a single-lane roundabout, wide medians in the middle of the road that allow pedestrians to cross at three different points, and a 10-foot-wide multi-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians on the Elings Park side of the road.

The city also plans to install eight new 20-foot-tall lights at the intersection.

Currently, there are stop signs on the road and a flashing traffic signal that hangs above the intersection, and motorists take turns traveling through.

Santa Barbara has long wanted to improve circulation at the intersection, but was not able until the state two years ago relinquished control of the former state highway to the city. 

A few residents spoke at the meeting to raise concerns about motorists whipping through the roundabout

"I hope we can plan so that everyone is safe here," said Cliff Drive resident Sherman Starr. "Traffic is at times unbearable. I have a terrible time just getting out of my driveway."

Star said people use Cliff Drive as a speedway. He wanted a traffic signal at the intersection.

"I am afraid with a roundabout it is continuous action," Starr said. "They are going to be going faster than they are now. They are going to be going as fast as they can because they are trying to get home."

Some residents of Alan Road, where a crossing path with a median is proposed, expressed fears that it will be difficult for them to turn left from Alan Road onto Cliff Drive.

"This is going to be a problem coming out," said nearby resident Alan McCarter.

He suggested that the city keep a stop sign there and set the speed limit for 25 mph instead of the 45 mph that currently exists.

"I don't think we can just pull the stop sign out and think everything is going to run nicely the rest of the way down the road," McCarter said.

The city's traffic engineer Derrick Bailey said otherwise.

"This is an important intersection in terms of the city's long term vision for bike and pedestrian access," Bailey said. "We don't expect there to be a significant change in the way traffic flows past Alan Road right now."

Bailey said the fastest motorists will be traveling coming out of the roundabout is 15 or 20 mph.

ABR board member Stephanie Poole said she likes the design, but was sympathetic with the residents' concerns about traffic safety.

"I see with roundabouts around town that the users gun it right after they pull out of the traffic circle," Poole said. "It just happens. It's a dangerous situation between the roundabout and Alan Road.

I hope that your design has solved that, but i don't know."

The ABR suggested that the city consider native cobblestone, which is planned to decorate the medians, and include some green landscaping within the cobblestone design, and to be sensitive to the concerns of the residents nearby before completing final design.

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.

A map details the plan to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
A map details the plan to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara.
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