Despite claims from opponents of the project, funding for a proposed barrier on the Cold Spring Bridge on Highway 154 remains intact, according to a spokesman for Caltrans.
Marc McGinnes, citing two letters from the California Transportation Commission (CTC), which oversees funding for transportation projects around the state, said the wording of the letters implies the state is removing the funding.
A June 30 letter from CTC Executive Director John F. Barna Jr. to Caltrans District 5 (which includes Santa Barbara County) Director Richard Krumholz recommends that “alternative sources of funding be secured for this project.” Said McGinnes: “Can anyone seriously doubt that the Commission’s two letters did not clearly convey to Caltrans the intended message that it could no longer consider as secured the funds that had been conditionally approved two years ago? … I think not.”
But Jim Shivers, a spokesman for the Caltrans district, said that while alternative sources of funding are being pursued, it was a stretch to think that funding had been pulled. “He’s misstating the information,” said Shivers, calling McGinnes’s comments irresponsible. “The funding for this project has not been pulled in any way, shape, or form. To make the claim the funding has been pulled is simply not true.”
While construction costs hover around $1 million, total cost for the project-which is expected to be built in 2010, according to Shivers-is $3.18 million. Currently, Caltrans staff is reviewing comments on a draft Environmental Impact Report, and the final EIR is expected to be released in December.
Proponents of the project, which vary from local politicians and law enforcement to community groups, have said the barrier will prevent people from committing suicide at the site, which has been the location of 44 suicides since it was built in 1963. But opponents, McGinnes’s “Friends of the Bridge” included, have said the project is a “boondoggle” that is a waste of taxpayers’ money.