Jerry Brown Now Directly Involved in Highway Widening Dispute?

Caltrans Fails to Deliver Expected Letter; Much-Anticipated Meeting Canceled

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
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The much anticipated showdown over Caltrans’s plans to widen Highway 101 from Montecito to the Ventura County line did not take place this week as scheduled. The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) canceled the meeting after Caltrans failed without explanation to deliver a letter outlining its intentions over a host of hotly disputed components to its plan. Governor Jerry Brown has reportedly gotten personally involved in the debate, and this may account for the resounding silence emanating from Caltrans.

One of the chief disputes is over the safety of left-hand off-ramps in Montecito. Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty has insisted they are unsafe, but a group of prominent and politically connected Montecitans calling themselves Common Sense 101 — who want the existing ramps retained — have unearthed evidence indicating the left-hand exits are no more dangerous than the statewide average and are, in fact, considerably safer.

Dougherty was expected to send a letter to the SBCAG board prior to this week’s meeting insisting on his opposition to the left-hand ramps and asking the board to decide how it wished to proceed on the issue. Until that debate is resolved, the $500 million plans to widen the freeway cannot move forward. Without the widening, Caltrans and its supporters contend rush hour traffic will become unacceptably congested for six hours. But critics contend the widening project will suck up most of the funds now customarily used for pay for road repair and alternative transportation projects.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

What a cluster! The left side on ramps and off ramps totally disrupt traffic flow - no statistics can change that observation. "Slower traffic keep right", a basic traffic law, is in direct conflict with the left ramps.

The privileged Montecietians want to hold their little 101 bottleneck hostage to their self centered interests. Big Montecito buck$$ means the rest of us suffer on 101.

Let's hope the Gov sees the light!!

GandG (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 6:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Way to think GandG

Make up your mind and never let facts or statistics change it.

RobEgenolf (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 6:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's official then He's running for re-election and wants that Montecito money.

confusedbystander (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What's missing from this article is Brown's opinion on the subject. If Caltrans is silent, should we assume that means Brown is in favor of keeping the left-hand on/off ramps?

Botany (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fact: slower traffic keep right
FAct: Faster traffic keep left.
Fact: traffic slows (at least should be slowing) at offramps.
Fact: cars are just picking up speed on freeway onramps, especially those which require ascent.
Fact: fast oncoming traffic on the left meeting slower traffic equals big boom bang.

If switching sides of ramp is such an issue, then just take out the ramps period and be done with it.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Rob - I do the commute daily and have for 8 years. Obviously there is a huge (little) space problem at Ortega Hill with the cliff, freeway, railroad and Pacific Ocean and the solution will be contentious, but to say that the left ramps are "in fact, considerably safer" is questionable. What stats show these are safer?

GandG (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How much weight do we give Brown's opinion on the subject?

confusedbystander (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The problem is that freeway on ramps and freeway off ramps are entirely different situations.

Left hand freeway on ramps do allow autos to enter at speeds less than acceptable highway speed while on the other hand left freeway hand off ramps do indeed allow them to exit at acceptable highway speed.

I would not mourn the elimination of the uphill left lane freeway entrance on ramp at Sheffield and think routing all of the southbound bound 101 traffic through Summerland to the Wallace freeway on ramp would be a good solution.

However it is left hand freeway exits that seem to be Caltrans' sacred cows, yet I have indeed seen statistics that show fewer accidents on the left lane freeway exit at Hot Springs than at several right lane freeway exits both before and after Hot Springs.

There is simply no empirical evidence that has been presented so far that shows any materially increased danger arising from that left lane freeway exit.

Caltrans wants to eliminate all left lane freeway exits eventually but so far has only based desire that upon internal policy not any other persuasive basis.

To require our local community to not only spend millions more from our available highway funds, but also to endure years longer congestion while we await completion of this freeway work, merely to conform to Caltrans' internal policy makes little sense to me

RobEgenolf (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Major Leftie Obama supporters live in Montecito along with the Uber-Lib Hollywood crowd. Make sure you get their political bias and connections right when you wind up to eat the rich again.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Please don't give me the "slower traffic keep right" B.S. I drive to Ventura from the Santa Barbara area at least once every week of the year. What I see every time (not just sometimes, but every time!) are slow moving trucks hanging out in the center lane, like boulders in stream, because they do not want to deal with merging traffic. This is a major cause of congestion as other drivers attempt to flow around the boulders (i.e., slow moving trucks). By the time you get to Montecito, the trucks are in all three lanes and the average speed is below 60 mph, even on good days. In all my travels south (which in the last 40 years have added up to thousands), I have never seen a problem with the left hand exits. Still, I am willing to admit that such evidence is only anecdotal and will accept real, scientifically collected and analyzed data to determine the safety of the exits. I suspect that if Caltrans had the data we would have seen it by now.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't live in Montecito, but where I do live I want the traffic to go by as efficiently as possible, including minimal noise and pollution. The government of the City of Santa Barbara wants to limit residential development within certain distances of 101 because they have decided residing within certain distances is harmful. Certain residents of Montecito want to leave 101 right as it is. Is the City wrong, or is are the objecting residents of Montencito wrong? Are they both right?

confusedbystander (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 7:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Rob - It's the onramp at Ortega Hill that gets me. The offramps, while still counter to basic traffic flow, are the lesser evil. I heard that the additional 101 lanes planned through Montecito will not be constructed if the left lane ramps remain. Is that true? I know it starts to get complicated when you dig into things . . .

GandG (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting take on the issue, confused bystander. Is this why Gregg Hart is so hell bent getting this third lane.

That he wants to protect the city of SB from more residential build out, by making commute times to the affordable suburbs and bedroom communities to the south of us less environmentally suspect to the True Believers on city council?

Anywhere else this would be a loony suspicion, except in Santa Barbara the land of self-destructive eco-politics. Surely the good folks of Montecito would agree to this environmental compromise.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 8:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The answer is simple, if we all drive on the left hand side of the road like they do in England, than this will not be an issue.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 8:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What on earth has politics got to do with this. I bet you will find many from both sides agreeing for and many from both sides against. You are proving what I said earlier - some will take any topic regardless of applicability, as a way to bash the left. You have a political bias and not a fact bias.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 10:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How much weight do we give Montecitans on debate? WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK! Once again the needs of the many vs the needs of the few. Calculate freeway hours spent...You Monteceitans are never on the freeway when the rest of us have to deal. I am fortunate enough to reverse commute but it is ridiculous all the time spent when parents could be home with kids not dealing with childcare stuff. Plus with the Hotel off to the right in ruins, the freeway median looks like a bomb went off. Dirty dead debris. Yes triple D which I like in some regards, but not driving down the freeway. Left lane off ramps are lame. I think this is merely a stalling tactic. Go Jerry! Tell them to sit down and shut up.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 10:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

tabatha pretty much sums it up for me. And I'd feel the same if if all Montecitans had been condemned as "heartless Conservatives" for the record. You just can't make such huge generalities.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 10:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

the solution is simple, close the 101 permanently and erect a wall around SB. That'll show em...

GluteousMaximus (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 5:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yo Gluten, S.B. is almost to that point right now. They run the place like a country club.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 5:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just close all of the Montecito ramps!

fredb93117 (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 6:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

tabatha, seriously!!!

"What on earth has politics got to do with this"

Awww, everything!! Let's see, it's tax money, this tax money is governed by SBCAG, Caltrans is in charge of widening the freeway, Moonbeam has interjected himself and wealthy left-wing Montecietians are using politicians to continue the 30+ year stalling of widening the gateway through Montecito. Any questions????

Priceless (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 8:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I've been driving this precise stretch from SB to work in Montecito for 34 years. GandG is correct, and let's stop the stalling, we've heard out Ron Pulice, build it now sans center on/off ramps. The south left onramp at Sheffield is extremely dangerous.
Better: cancel the entire project, oblige big employers like UCSB and City of SB to communicate with each other and STAGGER WORK HOURS...think of all we'd save. Who wants to drive through 10 - 12 years of bottlenecks?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 8:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Priceless, no questions. You provided a very good summation of the issues at stake.

30 years ago there was talk of an alternate 101 route through the Los Padres forest that would by-pass Santa Barbara entirely. Should have taken them up on this plan.

The Swiss have an excellent tunnel boring machine that could have kept this entire Highway 101 backcountry by-pass under ground and out of sight.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 9:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

please give ref for the socalled alternate route through Los Padres? The old 154 route? 166?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 9:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Proponents of left-hand ramps are missing one thing ...

The combination of freeway speeds and traffic volumes during heavy traffic hours will not only increase after the project is complete, they will likely be a historical high!

That means historical accident rates (however you slice them up) will not remain the same. More likely, they will increase.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 9:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The alternate Highway 101 via Los Padres Forest story was covered by the NewsPress and/or other local media (The News and Review?) approx 30 years ago. Ask to check their archives. This may have been associated with the planned elimination of stop lights on 101 at Santa Barbara. Underpass or an overpass great debate that went on for years.

Wiki can give you background on the tunnel-boring machine which the Swiss recently used successfully, based upon an Austrian design for use in the Alps. All projects highly successful and adapted for slant drilling oil extraction as well.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 9:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

NOW -- as of Dec. 23 -- Cal Trans has officially rebuffed all the johnny-come-lately "keep the left-side ramps" Montecito crowd. Good -- just build the darn thing...
Although, reconsider: LET'S DROP THE ENTIRE PROJECT! I drive through this section Mon - Fri and the upcoming years of construction do seem horrible. JERRY BROWN needs to intervene against this new concrete morass, and, with SBCAG, oblige UCSB and City of SB and other big employers to radically stagger employee working hours. Then we can keep the 101 the way we want (even the left ramps), avoid many many years of construction, and be an example of good inter-municipal planning. Let's see some leadership on this, Greg Hart, with your dual positions on SBCAG and SB City Council. Adding more concrete is insane.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 9:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good catch DrDan.

I'm not sure about staggered work hours. Many large tech firms in Goleta already offer this flexibility but in practice, it can be difficult to make work. Lots of folks are on a set schedule because of their families. And for those w/o kids there's the problem of working on projects where everyone needs to be present at the same time. Telecommuting can help, we allow it at our company, but surveys say its used more as a way to increase hours beyond 40 per week. Commuter rail perhaps? Not sure what the right-of-way issues would be.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 10:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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