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Local News

State Commission Awards Nearly $184 million for Highway 101 Widening

Project would add a lane northbound and southbound from Carpinteria to the Sheffield Road interchange in Montecito

Woman speaks during press conference. Click to view larger
Marjie Kirn, Santa Barbara County Association of Governments executive director, speaks during a press conference Thursday. The California Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved $184 million to fund SBCAG and the California Transportation Commission’s state grant application for the Highway 101 expansion project. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The California Transportation Commission has approved spending nearly $184 million in state grant funding to expand Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Montecito.

The project, expected to begin in spring 2020, would add one high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane northbound and southbound from Bailard Avenue in Carpinteria to the Sheffield Road interchange in Montecito, replace Highway 101 bridges, and provide other operational improvements. 

The commission voted to fund the Highway 101 widening, along with other statewide projects, at its recent meeting in San Diego.

Project revenue comes from Senate Bill 1, the state gas tax increase.

“This funding comes with a slight additional cost at the pump — but it’s critical,” Caltrans Highway 101 corridor manager Scott Eades said. “Without this funding, we would be years away from being complete. It will help us provide congestion relief in this corridor that has long been sought and needed.”

Broadening the section would tie into areas of Highway 101 that are complete with the HOV or carpool lanes.

The project from Santa Barbara to Mussel Shoals in Ventura County includes the widening of Highway 101 to three lanes in each direction.

Eight miles of the 16-mile project remain to be built. Project revenues come from state and federal money and funding from the voter-approved Measure A in Santa Barbara County.

“The residents of Santa Barbara County and the traveling public who use the 101 corridor will benefit for decades to come from the transportation investments,” said  Marjie Kirn, Santa Barbara County Association of Governments executive dDirector.

Map of Highway 101 widening project. Click to view larger
Map of Highway 101 expansion project. (Contributed)

Phase one and phase two of the project, which began in 2008 and have been finished, expanded the freeway between Milpas Street and Hot Springs Road in Montecito, and between Carpinteria and La Conchita in Ventura County.

Phase three in Carpinteria — reconstructing and widening 101 overcrossing at Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road, restoring freeway bridges over Carpinteria Creek, extending Via Real more than a mile to join with Linden Avenue, and improving various bicycle and pedestrian crossings — is in construction and is anticipated to be complete in 2019, a year earlier than scheduled.

At a press conference Thursday in front of the Santa Barbara County Administration Building, Joan Hartmann Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor and SBCAG board chair, said the new funding announcement completes three segments of the Highway 101 project.

The final areas planned for construction after phase 4A to 4C include phases 4D and 4E of widening 101 between Sycamore Creek in Santa Barbara to Romero Creek in Montecito.

“With the new funding in hand, we can continue the new carpool lane as fast as possible, and go back to the California Transportation Commission in two years to request funding to complete the new lanes through Montecito and Santa Barbara,” Hartmann said. “That will finish the project, and get traffic moving.”

However, SB 1 money may be in danger. A group has been collecting signatures for a ballot measure to repeal the gas tax.  

“This November, voters will consider a ballot measure to repeal the state gas tax,” said Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, also is SBCAG subregional committee chair. “If that repeal effort succeeds, the state funding we now have in hand to continue the 101 HOV project will evaporate. Santa Barbara County voters understand the need to invest in our transportation system.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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