Construction on Highway 101 between Padaro Lane and Sheffield Drive got a $75 million loan from U.S. DOT. | Credit:

The work ongoing between Summerland and Carpinteria on Highway 101 got a $75 million transfusion from the U.S. Department of Transportation in the form of an innovative loan. Awarded on October 5, the loan targets 7.5 miles of carpool lanes along the highway, which is a portion of the major reconstruction work to add a third lane from Santa Barbara to Carpinteria since 2019.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) secured the loan, which spokesperson Lauren Bianchi-Klemann said was a unique one as SBCAG could use only as much as was needed and no penalty came for early repayment. The loan was made at 4.02 percent per year.

In all, the 15-year project is adding not only a lane to the highway but also sound walls, creek crossing improvements, bike lanes, and rebuilt highway and railroad crossings at Sheffield Drive and Cabrillo Boulevard at a total cost of more than $1 billion. Additional funds come from Measure A, a half-cent sales tax ballot measure that passed in 2008 for what was billed as a “lane and train” project, among other sources. Bianchi stated Measure A has leveraged more than $500 million in funding to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety on the highway.

The loan is a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden last year, which expanded project eligibility for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act financing. “In addition to better connecting this community to existing employment opportunities, this investment will also generate 5,000-6,000 new good jobs in the region,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg of the investments in the 101.

Bianchi stated that of the project miles between Montecito and Santa Barbara, 2.5 miles remain to be fully funded and are a part of the Federal National Highway Freight Network. According to the project website, all the highway work is expected to be final some time in 2027.


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