For more than three years, the Santa Barbara Coast Coalition and the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition have been in talks with Caltrans over the filling and paving of drainage ditches along Foothill Road (Highway 192). The issue centers on a 0.7-mile section of road, between Mission Canyon Road and Alamar Avenue, which is the site of a range of problems including high accident rates, poor drainage, and slow emergency response. While the coalitions are pushing for four-foot paved shoulders with “no parking” zones on either end of the road. Caltrans, however, is insisting on covering the areas in question with “stabilizing material” - that is, decomposed granite “safe for casual walking, jogging and biking but not driving,” as Ralph Fertig, bicycle coalition president, said Caltrans termed it in a letter to him. Discussion of the matter last publicly took place at a July 28, 2008, meeting, but the parties involved have not yet reached a unanimous agreement. Caltrans insists there is no funding for a project on the scale that the coalitions are suggesting, while residents and coalition members argue that Foothill Road must be repaired in order to ensure pedestrian and biker safety.
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Tyler Hayden is an Independent intern.