The Milpas-to-Hot Springs Highway 101 project will continue, at least for now, after a three-member state board released $650 million previously frozen Prop. 1B money. The funding will pay for a big but yet-to-be-determined chunk of the $53 million cost of the construction project, which is widening Highway 101 by a lane in each direction, as well as adding a roundabout to Coast Village Road and improved pedestrian and bicycle access.

The decision came Friday after the Pooled Money Investment Board – comprised of State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, State Controller John Chiang, and Director of Finance Michael C. Genest – met in Sacramento.

The project is nearly 20 percent completed and by far the largest and furthest along of any project in the county using Prop. 1B money, according to Caltrans District Director Rich Krumholz.

In a statement, Assemblymember Pedro Nava said he was pleased Caltrans will be able to continue to make payments despite the “fiscal uncertainty of the times.” The contractor, the Sun Valley-based Security Paving, was paid earlier this month for work completed through Dec. 20.

Had Caltrans not been able to pay, the project was in danger of being shut down, which would’ve added additional costs for unbudgeted demobilizing and remobilizing costs. In addition, roughly 1,000 workers would be out jobs.

The previous day, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments board voted to lend Caltrans up to $2 million to keep the project going should the state not get its finances in order. Despite Krumholz warning that there was no assurance when there would be a payback of the loan, the board was supportive of the move.

But with Friday’s news out of Sacramento, that loan probably won’t be necessary now for at least a few more months, depending on how the budget situation plays out.


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