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Local News

31 Projects Under Construction As Part of Santa Barbara Capital Improvement Plan

About $177 million in capital projects underway as city's deferred maintenance backlog continues to grow

A center median and flashing pedestrian lights were installed at State Street and Calle Palo Colorado near MacKenzie Park, a project in the Santa Barbara Capital Improvement Plan.
A center median and flashing pedestrian lights were installed at State Street and Calle Palo Colorado near MacKenzie Park, a project in the Santa Barbara Capital Improvement Plan.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

With infrastructure funding in Santa Barbara tight, the city council on Tuesday heard about the Public Works Department’s report for Capital Improvement Plan projects.

From January to June of this year, 14 CIP projects around the city have been completed, city engineer Brian D’Amour told the council, with 31 more currently in their construction phase and 37 in their design phase.

Roughly $9.2 million have gone into those 14 projects, D’Amour said.

Among the completed improvements are the replacement of the “H” and “I” fingers of the Santa Barbara Harbor’s Marina 1, various pedestrian crosswalk enhancements and permeable concrete pavers in the sidewalks around Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, and the Parks and Recreation Department's service road at Plaza de Vera Cruz, which capture storm water.

The 31 projects now in construction total just under $100 million, D’Amour said.

Twelve of those are water and wastewater projects that combine for a little over two-thirds of that amount, according to D’Amour’s report.

Three current street and bridge projects total another $26 million.

Improvements to the El Estero wastewater treatment plant, which began in May, are slated to finish up in 2018, D’Amour told the council. Among other fixes, the project will increase the quality of the treated waste that gets discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

The city’s 37 projects in their design phase are estimated to total $77 million, including $32 million for street and bridge projects and another $15 million for water and wastewater systems projects. 

D’Amour said that construction bids for the roundabout planned for the intersection of Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive are being sent out, with construction expected to begin in October if the bids come back in line with the Public Works’ cost expectations.

Designs for the replacement of city water mains are also in the works, he said. The city’s established goal for their replacement is 1 percent of the system per year.

Santa Barbara’s current CIP outlines planned and projected capital improvement needs for fiscal years 2014-2019. A further breakdown of its current projects can be found here.

Though the city’s own lagging capital improvement funds weren’t discussed in detail during the report, the 82 projects have been or will be the recipients of a wide array of funding sources, including grant programs, low-interest state loans, city funds and Measure B, which raised the city’s transient-occupancy tax 15 years ago for creek restoration and water quality improvement needs.

Even with the funding sources and capital projects underway, the city has a considerable backlog of deferred maintenance for which staff have been searching for alternative sources of money.

In particular need are city streets, the funds for which were described by city administrator Paul Casey at a June council meeting as being “in crisis condition.”

At that meeting, where the council adopted the city’s fiscal year 2017 budget, over $800,000 was redirected from a handful of capital improvement projects into street paving.

According to city staff that day, $8 million to $10 million a year is required just to keep street paving properly maintained.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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