A new traffic signal will be installed over the summer at a busy Isla Vista intersection that’s seen its share of pedestrian, bicycle, skateboard and vehicle congestion.
Santa Barbara County public works crews will install the traffic light at the intersection of Embarcadero del Norte and Pardall Road, and expect construction to take four to six weeks.
According to public works director Scott McGolpin, the project will cost about $300,000, a price tag that will be split between the county’s Community Development Block Grant Program and UC Santa Barbara.
County officials made the signal decision based on the high volume of pedestrian crossings and bicycles and skateboards zooming alongside car and truck traffic at the intersection, one corner of which is anchored by the landmark Freebirds burrito joint.
“This is probably the busiest area in Isla Vista because it’s in the commercial district,” McGolpin said. “The traffic signal will help the intersection operate in a more consistent way.”
The signal will replace two stop signs for northbound and southbound traffic on Embarcadero del Norte. The presence of the stop signs gives the right of way at all times to eastbound and westbound traffic on Pardall Road, which is a primary access point to the UCSB campus one block to the east.
“There are long delays while waiting for a break in the bikes just to get across the intersection,” McGolpin said.
Once the signal is operational, it will undergo a red-light phase of 15-20 seconds on Pardall Road.
Installing the new light will require sidewalk construction, and officials say crews will work to minimize impacts on those traveling through the area.
The signal is an effort to avoid pedestrian, bike and traffic collisions, McGolpin said.
“There are opportunities with conflicts,” he said. “We want to try to address this issue before there’s a major incident.”
The original proposal called for installing two signals — one at the Pardall Road-Embarcadero del Norte intersection and another at the Pardall Road-Embarcadero del Mar intersection one block to the west.
McGolpin said officials decided to go with the Embarcadero del Norte signal because it will cause breaks in traffic flow.
Pegeen Soutar, board chairwoman of the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District and a UCSB graduate, said safety is the top concern.
The 35-year I.V. resident said the intersection is tough for cars and delivery trucks to cross.
Soutar said she has noticed that peak commuter bike flow is during the morning and late afternoon when students are traveling to and from campus.
“It is the main thoroughfare for bicycles,” she said. “It’s a challenging intersection at a certain time of day and a difficult intersection. I hope people are paying attention and careful.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.