Starting on Monday, West Mission Street will be the focus of work crews, jackhammers, diggers, and asphalt grinders as Santa Barbara makes improvements — including getting rid of the worst of the “dips” at the Bath Street intersection — to one of the busiest streets in the city. The project, dubbed “Mission Street Possible” in a gung-ho take on a likely nightmarish traffic situation, will fix sidewalks, make 12 ramps ADA accessible, shorten the crossings at De la Vina, replace failing underground signal conduit, pave the road surface, and plant new trees, all between the 101 and State Street.
“We’ve tried to minimize the impacts of the project,” said Max Kashanian, the project engineer for the city. “We know how busy that street is.” During the first phase of the construction, while sidewalks are under reconstruction, the walkways on the other side of the street will stay open. Asphalt grinders will work next to rid the road of a 3- to 4-inch build-up of slurry seal that causes the huge dips where cars routinely bottom out at intersections. Road work will close one lane at a time and leave one slightly wider lane open for the most part.Credit: City of Santa Barbara
Should the various phases of the work close all four lanes of travel, especially along the acutely busy stretch between the 101 and Bath Street, that work will take place on weekends between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Otherwise, in general, the work will be done during the work week.
“We just had to bite the bullet and do a proper job,” Kashanian said of the difficulties the work will cause the 20,000 motorists who use the street daily. “The overlaying of asphalt on the street will last for 20 years.” Three months was the city’s best estimate for the length of the project, Kashanian said, but elements like moving fire hydrants on sidewalks could open the proverbial can of worms: “You don’t know what you’re going to get until you start digging.”
A stretch of Los Olivos Street from Laguna, past the Old Mission, and over the Mission Creek Bridge to the city limits will also be repaved during the project. The $2.5 million “Mission Street Possible” is funded by SB 1’s gas tax money and Santa Barbara’s Measure C. The contractor is Granite Construction.