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Santa Barbara County Awarded $392,000 Federal Safe Routes to School Grant

The money will pay for a pathway between Highway 101 and Montecito Union School.

Santa Barbara County recently was awarded a federal Safe Routes to School grant for $392,000 to construct a decomposed granite pathway along the west side of San Ysidro Road in the unincorporated community of Montecito.

The pathway will extend for a little more than a half-mile between Highway 101 and Montecito Union School.

“The San Ysidro Road path will do far more than allow children to walk to school safely, which is exciting enough on its own,” said Stephen Murdoch, a Montecito resident and parent who initiated the effort to establish the path. “In addition, the path will safely link pedestrians of every age to Miramar Beach, Montecito Union School, Upper and Lower Manning Parks, Laguna Blanca Lower School, and the shopping area of the Upper Village.”

An announcement of the grant and a discussion of the next steps will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Montecito Union School, 385 San Ysidro Road.

Eva Inbar, president of COAST, said: “This project was based on a remarkable collaboration between many parties: Stephen Murdoch, the parent and benefactor who got us all started; the school administration, which was supportive throughout; COAST, the nonprofit that worked hard on this; our equally hardworking public works staff; and last but not least, Supervisor (Salud) Carbajal, who just rolled up his sleeves and got things done.”

The purpose of the project is to provide a simple pathway so that children don’t have to meander into the traffic lanes of San Ysidro Road to avoid vegetation, walls, mailboxes and other obstacles on their way to school.

The 5-foot-wide pathway will be made of decomposed granite and will meet ADA standards. Curb cuts and curb ramps will be included at intersecting streets and driveways to provide access by all pedestrians. The project takes advantage of tying into existing sections of pathway cleared by property owners.

“I am excited that the federal government has selected this deserving project within my supervisorial district as the recipient of a Safe Routes to School grant,” Carbajal said. “Given the challenging financial times that we are facing, this funding will be instrumental in constructing this important enhancement to our children’s safety in a timely manner.”

Environmental review is expected to commence in 2009 with the county also obtaining applicable permits. Construction most likely will occur in 2010.

Jeremy Tittle is an executive staff assistant to First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal.

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