The sound walls planned for a stretch of Highway 101 in Montecito as part of the ongoing widening project have been nixed after an analysis revealed the solid structures would create a flooding hazard in a big storm. The study was conducted by the county’s Flood Control department in response to the 1/9 Debris Flow. In place of the sound walls, black-coated chain link fencing planted with vines and other landscaping is planned from Olive Mill Road to North Jameson Lane on the north side of the highway.
Traffic planning consultant Kirsten Ayars explained the 101 widening project team had studied alternative wall types and configurations, including walls with flood gates, a staggered layout, and lower heights. “Unfortunately,” she said in a statement, “the options resulted in a rise in flood waters during hydraulic modeling, did not meet freeway safety requirements, and/or would not meet the federal sound wall requirements.”
For final design approval, the fencing must pass through the Montecito Board of Architectural Review and the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission. The Carpinteria-to-Santa Barbara segment is the final stage of the overall Highway 101 widening project. The last phase of work, which also includes interchange improvements, is expected to cost approximately $700 million.