Mayor Randy Rowse brought out the big scissors once again Thursday to cut the red ribbon on the Las Positas and Modoc multi-use path, officially marking the completion of the freshly paved and redesigned 2.6-mile pathway connecting Modoc Road and Cliff Drive.
Over a hundred community members — bikes, dogs, and scooters in tow — gathered at the new footbridge, which connects the path with Arroyo Burro, showing their approval with the “ding” of their bicycle bells instead of applause. Many have already been taking advantage of the pathway, which has been open to the public for weeks leading up to the official completion, many saying the path has been a community need for years.
The city has had its eyes on the project in some form since the ’70s, according to City Administrator Rebecca Bjork, who spoke at the ceremony alongside Rowse, former mayor Helene Scnieder, transportation manager Jessica Grant, and city councilmembers Oscar Gutierrez, Eric Friedman, Mike Jordan, and Kristen Sneddon.
“It’s fabulous to finally have this be the culmination of so many efforts: getting the roads relinquished from CalTrans; the creek restoration; the park acquisition; the bridge. All the things we’ve talked about for as long as I can certainly remember being in town,” Rowse said. “It’s a great effort, and a big hand to the entire community for supporting this.”
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The event also celebrated the next phase of the Arroyo Burro Open Space Restoration project. Phase one included improvements to creek banks and water quality and the removal of non-native vegetation in favor of locally sourced plants.
Grant took the lead on the multi-use path, which was constructed over 18 months after breaking ground in August 2020 and is estimated to have a construction cost of about $15.5 million from the city’s active transportation program. The project took coordination and work between Santa Barbara’s Creeks Division, Parks and Recreation, Street Tree Advisory Committee, Transportation, Circulation, and every level of planning and approval through the Architectural Board of Review, Planning Commission, and City Council. “We knew this was gonna be an extremely challenging project,” Grant said.
The renovations include freshly paved paths, a new traffic signal at the intersection at Elings Park, and more than 100 new trees and at least 500 new shrubs. Safer railings were also added to separate the path from traffic.
The path, which starts at Modoc Road and Calle de los Amigos and continues to Las Positas Road to Cliff Drive, now allows bicyclists to ride from Goleta to the Santa Barbara Waterfront.
Local alternative transport advocate, Chicano historian, and SBBIKE ambassador Michael Montenegro said that the project is a great asset to an area that was often a dangerous ride for Westside residents looking to visit Arroyo Burro beach. “It’s all about safe streets and accessibility,” he said.