The Goleta City Council decided to move forward with a bikeway on a 1-mile stretch of Hollister Avenue between Pacific Oaks Road and Ellwood Elementary School. The project will build a 5-foot-wide median separating the road from a pedestrian path and bike lane. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

A roughly 1-mile stretch of Hollister Avenue in western Goleta will soon get an upgrade to its transportation routes.

The Goleta City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to pursue the Public Works Department’s plans to revamp the bike lane on the south side of the street between Pacific Oaks Road and Ellwood Elementary School.

The project would add a Class 1 bikeway and multi-use path immediately south of the already existing Class 2 lane.

A Class 1 bikeway is one completely separate from the roadway, while a Class 2 shares the road and has a painted stripe separating the bicycles’ and cars’ rights of way.

Under the plan, which will cost roughly $3.5 million, a 5-foot-wide median would separate the current Class 2 bicycle lane from a new 4-foot-wide pedestrian path. Next to the path would be the 8-foot-wide bikeway, and then a 2-foot-wide shoulder.

The goal of the project, the city said, is to encourage biking, especially among school kids, in the residential neighborhoods immediately south of that stretch of Hollister Avenue.

Over the past couple years of public outreach, city staff wrote in their report, residents had advocated for a variety of additional safety features like speed tables and bend outs.

The Public Works Department, however, after analysis by a consulting team consisting of Drake Haglan and Associates, Kimley–Horn and Stantec, deemed many of the features impractical given constraints on space and lines of sight.

Room for the new lanes will be achieved in part through curb extensions along the route’s intersections that lack traffic control signals. Additional signage would be added to call attention to the changes in the transportation landscape.

Representatives from the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation and Wilson Hubbell, the former head of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, expressed their support for the project, but stated that a “lane diet,” which would reduce Hollister to two lanes total, would be a preferable, if not safer, alternative.

Public Works staff explained that a lane reduction would generate heavier traffic that could have unintended consequences such as longer waits for left turns, fewer gaps in traffic for those turns, and a subsequent increase in driver frustration and the attendant driving risks the frustration would cause.

In 2014, the city was granted $1.6 million from the state’s Active Transportation Program for the project, in addition to, the staff report said, “a variety of funding sources” that have been identified.

The catch, Public Works Director Rosemarie Gaglione told the council, is ATP’s Sept. 16 deadline for awarding a construction contract.

The California Transportation Commission, she said, will be hearing a request from the city for an extension of the contract-awarding window next month so that construction could be delayed until spring 2017, when children will be getting out of school and won’t be biking down the street as much.

Should the extension not be granted, she added, the project could still go forward, as the plans are ready to go.

The extension, she said, is “purely for public convenience” in terms of providing more time for the public to examine the plans as well as how many children will be biking to and from school during the target construction time.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Design plans for the project show the medians, bikeways and pedestrian paths for the stretch of Hollister Avenue in western Goleta.

Design plans for the project show the medians, bikeways and pedestrian paths for the stretch of Hollister Avenue in western Goleta.  (City of Goleta photo)