Come 2013, there’s going to be a few more ways to access Old Town Goleta. That’s the promise of the Ekwill Street-Fowler Road extension project, which will connect the isolated southern stretches of Old Town as well as add a number of roundabouts in the area, including two on Hollister Avenue on each side of Highway 217. The extensions of both Fowler and Ekwill will go through to Pine and Kellogg roads, and then Ekwill will eventually also go to Fairview Avenue, and they will be complete with bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.
The associated landscaping plans came before the City of Goleta’s Design Review Board on Tuesday, showing that progress is indeed occurring on the ambitious capital improvement project. “This will open up the circulation a bit, take a little pressure off Hollister, and make it easier to get down into these properties rather than just having one way in and one way out,” explained the City of Goleta’s Rosemarie Gaglione, who expects the environmental report to be ready for public comment by the end of summer.
In addition to the Hollister roundabouts, there will also be a roundabout at Ekwill and Pine as well as another at Fowler, Placencia, and Fairview. At the moment, it seems that none of the anti-roundabout crowd that’s made a fuss in Santa Barbara have spread their message to Goleta. “All I’ve heard are pro-roundabout things so far here,” said Gaglione. But she’s aware of the sentiment. “When I first came to the city, I was an anti-roundabout person,” said Gaglione, but then she took some design classes and learned how much they’d evolved. “The modern roundabouts are really great. The new designs are so much different from the traffic circles and rotaries of yesterday.”
A previously controversial part of the plan was to put in stoplights on Highway 217 near these new roads was shot down early on by UCSB. “That’s not something in this plan,” said Gaglione, who explained that there’s not enough room there for a traditional freeway ramp system. “But I don’t know what might change in the future…. I don’t know how UCSB would feel today.”