Santa Barbara County
A Santa Barbara County illustration depicts a pedestrian trail along North Refugio Road in the Santa Ynez Valley. The county has approved a construction contract for a half-mile segment of the path. (Santa Barbara County illustration)

Construction on the North Refugio Road trail project in the Santa Ynez Valley will start in December after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved plans and a construction contract Tuesday.

The off-road pedestrian path will be built on the west side of North Refugio Road, from Stadium Drive at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School to Deer Trail Lane near Samantha Drive about a half-mile to the north. An informal horse trail will be cleared on the east side of the road.

The contract with Main Line Engineering Construction of Lompoc is for $295,580. The total project cost is $550,000.

Construction will start in December and be finished in February, according to the Public Works Department.

The county is still designing the next phase of the trail, which will be constructed between Samantha Drive and Baseline Avenue, another three-quarters of a mile to the north. When it’s finished, there will be off-road paths along North Refugio Road for the two miles between Highway 246 and Baseline Avenue.

Project supporters held a groundbreaking ceremony in September near the high school, and Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade volunteers made a demonstration project there to show people what the trail would look like.

Project supporters pose during a groundbreaking ceremony in late September. The county approved a construction contract for a segment of the trail this week.

Project supporters dig in during a late September groundbreaking for the North Refugio Road trail project. (Santa Barbara County photo)

The project was spearheaded by community members, including Faith Deeter and Jessica Schley, who pointed out that the trail was included in the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan.

“Since the 1950s we designed our space for cars and kind of lost sight of other uses on the roads,” Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said. “Especially in rural areas where we don’t have sidewalks, it means we have to drive even in a small rural town to get around safely.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hartmann gave a shout-out to Chris Sneddon, deputy director of the Public Works Department, for going door-to-door talking to people in the neighborhood about the project. When the groundbreaking happened in September, people were on board with the trail rather than resenting it, she said.

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