Santa Barbara’s downtown electric bike program has been deemed a success by city officials.
Santa Barbara’s downtown electric bike program has been deemed a success by city officials. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Highway 101 underpass on State Street in Santa Barbara is headed for a major redesign.

The project includes widening the sidewalks on both sides of State Street, from Yanonali to Gutierrez streets, and reducing the travel lanes to one in each direction to accommodate bike lanes. 

“This is a great project, as it provides a critical connection between downtown and the waterfront,” said Jessica Grant, supervising transportation planner. 

The project, with construction expected to start in 2022, was one of several items discussed at the Santa Barbara City Council’s recent public works budget hearing. Santa Barbara is reviewing its budget, department by department, before voting on the overall document in late June.

Much of the $160.1 million public works budget consists of visual projects, road paving, street sweeping and capital projects. The Highway 101 underpass is in the design phase and will be part of the overall transformation of State Street that is underway.

Grant discussed another significant change on State Street in delivering a report on the status of the city’s electric bike program. She said that since the program launched on Jan. 28, there have been 8,678 e-bike trips, 6,125 passes sold, 42,090 trips completed and 39,941 tons of carbon dioxide reduced from the atmosphere.

“We’re currently installing more locations and hope to install more docks in the coastal zone at the end of June,” Grant said. 

A rendering of the Highway 101 underpass on State Street in Santa Barbara.

A rendering of the Highway 101 underpass on State Street in Santa Barbara. (City of Santa Barbara courtesy photo)

Eventually, the city wants to install more than 500 docks and 250 pedal-assist bikes. Currently, there are 85 bikes on the streets, with 178 docks.

Grant also showed plans of the city’s work on a buffered bike lane on De la Vina Street, between Haley and Castillo streets, along with safety enhancements and nearby intersections.

Construction also is underway for the Las Positas and Modoc Multi-use Path, which will provide a 2.6-mile, off-street path for cyclists, runners and walkers.

In other updates, the city plans to spend about $2.1 million on capital improvement projects for its own facilities, including $740,000 on upgrades to the planning and department building at 630 Garden St. It also plans to make plumbing, mechanical and electrical upgrades, and paint the inside of the Carrillo Gym.

Citywide, plans call for spending $500,000 on business corridor improvements, including sidewalk maintenance, curb painting, graffiti removal and street lighting. In addition, the city plans to spend $500,000 on the State Street promenade redesign and another $350,000 to revitalize De la Guerra Plaza.

The city also will spend $12 million on road maintenance from its Measure C funds to cover the cost of slurry seal, cracks, asphalt overlay and other street repairs and maintenance.

Also, proposed for next year is a plan to start phasing out kiosk workers in city lots and move toward automated license readers.

Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon suggested that the city keep its “kiosketeers.”

“That function of those faces, and those resources downtown, are such an important part of further ambassadorship of downtown,” Sneddon said. “Whatever way we can to keep that going.”

Sneddon showed great support for the Public Works Department.

“Wow, Public Works,” she said. “It’s like running a whole city unto itself. It’s really what people expect of city government and where they want their tax dollars to go. You really are true heroes.”

The city is expected to approve its budget on June 22.

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