Michael Self of Santa Barbara Safe Streets attracted about 70
transportation partisans from both sides of the “traffic
calming” debate to a public forum on February 9. Self has
emerged as Santa Barbara’s most tireless critic of roundabouts and
other City Hall efforts to “tame” the automobile. Libertarian
Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute described “the dark side” of
Portland’s acclaimed alternative transit system and offered high
praise for Houston, often regarded by urban policymakers as an icon
of runaway growth. Santa Barbara City Councilmember Das Williams
stressed that the rival camps must work together to secure any
congestion relief grants.
The Santa Barbara City Council gave the thumbs-up to a
$50 million package of freeway and street
improvements designed to relieve congestion between Milpas
Street and Hot Springs Road. Among those improvements will be a new
roundabout between the bird refuge and Old Coast Highway, a new
southbound lane, two northbound auxiliary lanes to facilitate
merging onto the freeway, and a new underpass at Cacique Street
connecting residents of the lower Eastside to the waterfront.
Construction is projected to begin in March 2008 and last for four
years, during which time freeway congestion will be exacerbated and
safety lanes will be occupied by construction equipment and
Now that he’s head of the Assembly Transportation Committee,
Santa Barbara’s State Assemblymember Pedro Nava is
beating the bushes to secure $150 million to help alleviate
the traffic bottleneck that’s made life a living hell for
anyone trying to get to or from Carpinteria during rush hour.
Specifically, Nava hopes to secure a chunk of funding from the
multibillion-dollar Proposition 1B bond measure just passed to
address freeway problems that afflict the stretch from Mussel
Shoals in Ventura County to Casitas Pass in Carpinteria. While Nava
has yet to secure the money, it’s expected he will.
The Ortega Hill Project, paid for with $5 million of Measure D
funds, will officially open with a February 21 ceremony at 10 a.m.
The project consists of an auxiliary freeway lane
that gives drivers entering northbound 101 from the Evans Avenue
onramp in Summerland more time and distance to gain speed before
merging with traffic. A new bike path next to the project now
connects Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, giving cyclists an
alternative to the freeway shoulder and hilly side streets.