Caltrans announced yesterday that it had selected a construction firm for the long-planned revamp project for the stretch of Highway 101 running between Milpas Street and Hot Springs Road. As the Sun Valley-based Security Paving submitted the lowest bid for the projects – $46,194,285.52, 1.7 percent under Caltrans’s estimated budget – it will be the firm beginning work this summer. Seven other bids were received. The first phase of the project will be a widening of the 101 near Milpas. “This project will address travelers’ daily frustration with delay and will make the highway safer,” said Rich Krumholz, District 5 director of the California Department of Transportation, in a press statement. “When the project is completed, there will be improved access and connectivity for the Santa Barbara community and better traffic flow on the highway.”
Project spokesperson Kirsten Ayars said since the contract was only recently awarded, planners don’t yet know specifically when specific Highway 101 exits will close or for how long. “We haven’t yet got an exact timeline from contactors,” Ayars said. She did mention, however, that SBRoads.com has information about detours during the various construction phases. (Phase one, for example, will see the closure of the northbound 101 exit onto Milpas. The site advises drivers to exit on Garden, turn back onto the southbound 101 and then exit onto the functional Milpas ramp.) Because two northbound lanes and two southbound lanes will be kept open during all phases of construction, Ayars said that drivers should expect delays of 10-15 minutes on average and in addition to whatever normal travel time their trip would normally take.
A call to the Montecito Fire Department failed to ascertain whether the road work would affect routes that emergency crews might take when transporting a person from Montecito to Cottage Hospital. Ayars said that planners have met with emergency service agencies and have continually kept them in the loop as to construction schedules so that they can plan accordingly.
Ultimately, the project is scheduled to result in the installment of the following features in this area: a third lane along both northbound and southbound stretches between Milpas and Hot Springs Road, a new Milpas Street bridge over Highway 101, a widening of Sycamore Creek Bridge, a Cacique Street pass under the 101, better pedestrian and bicycle access under Highway 101 and along Old Coast Highway, and finally a roundabout leading to Cabrillo Boulevard, Hot Springs Road, Coast Village Road, and Old Coast Highway. The project is funded by Measure D and state bonds.