Construction is underway on Highway 101 in Summerland to add a lane in each direction. The massive project will create high-occupancy vehicle lanes for the corridor between Santa Barbara and the Ventura County line south of Carpinteria.
Construction is underway on Highway 101 in Summerland to add a lane in each direction. The massive project will create high-occupancy vehicle lanes for the corridor between Santa Barbara and the Ventura County line south of Carpinteria. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

A $75 million federal loan will help cash-flow needs for the massive Highway 101 corridor project, adding a third lane from Santa Barbara to Carpinteria.

Construction is underway on the highway section between Carpinteria and Summerland, with the Montecito-to-Santa Barbara segment up next. The project is managed by Caltrans and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has closed more than $38 billion in Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans, and the recent federal infrastructure bill provided more capital for the program.

Its Build America Bureau provided a 4.02% interest, $75 million loan to build 7.5 miles of high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Santa Barbara County for the Highway 101 corridor project.

“SBCAG is the first in our region to pursue and close on a TIFIA loan as an innovative financing option to deliver a public infrastructure project,” SBCAG spokeswoman Lauren Bianchi Klemann said.

She added that the loan funding will help the agency leverage Measure A dollars and provide the cash flow to keep construction moving forward.

“The financial flexibility of this loan means that local taxpayer dollars can be used to get even more money from the state and federal government,” she said.

SBCAG won’t necessarily need to draw down the full loan amount of $75 million, but it gives the agency cash flow to keep construction contracts going as soon as sections of the project are ready, Bianchi Klemann told Noozhawk.

Highway 101 is a major route through California, and for most of Santa Barbara County, it has only two lanes in each direction. The Santa Barbara-to-Ventura corridor is packed with commuters, travelers and freight users, and adding a carpool lane in each direction is expected to help the traffic bottleneck, according to SBCAG.

Highway 101 construction work in Summerland in southern Santa Barbara County.

Highway 101 construction work in Summerland in southern Santa Barbara County. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

“It’s basically updating 1940s infrastructure in the region,” Bianchi Klemann said.

There are so-called parallel projects to improve traffic flow on surface streets and intersections near the highway, including new roundabouts on San Ysidro Road and Olive Mill Road in Montecito; replacing the railroad bridge on Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara for intersection improvements; and new bike and pedestrian pathways along the corridor.

The 2.5-mile segment between Montecito and Santa Barbara is still unfunded to the tune of $256 million.

Local funding for the project has come from the voter-approved Measure A half-cent sales tax measure.

Construction starts in November on the Olive Mill Road roundabout, at the eastern end of Coast Village Road in Montecito. That project is expected to take seven to nine months, and drivers will be able to use the intersection throughout construction, Bianchi Klemann said.

Construction for the Carpinteria segment of the Highway 101 project is almost completed. Phase 4, which includes adding a third lane in each direction for the Montecito-to-Santa Barbara segment, is in the design and environmental review stage.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.