Officials celebrate completion of various improvements in Carpinteria
Friday was a momentous day for commuters who travel — often at a snail’s pace — on Highway 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
As the sun rose, a new day began for the morning commute, with the opening of new carpool lanes in both directions in the Carpinteria area.
Later that morning, officials marked the opening of the peak-period, high-occupancy lanes and other freeway-related improvements with a ceremony on the northbound on-ramp at Casitas Pass Road. The ceremony celebrated the first completed segment of the $700 million Highway 101: Carpinteria project.
Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by everyone from local transit riders to U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and state Sen. Monique Limón, both D-Santa Barbara; Carpinteria Mayor Wade Nomura; Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse; Supervisor Das Williams; and Joan Hartmann, chair of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
The new carpool lanes are between Bailard Avenue and the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp at Santa Claus Lane. The new lanes tie into recently added third lanes to the south, and Caltrans said they will connect to upcoming projects to the north.
In addition, there are now new freeway on- and off-ramps at Santa Monica Road, Carpinteria Avenue and Reynolds Avenue. Six new sound walls were built to reduce freeway noise for neighbors. And new bridges were constructed over Franklin and Santa Monica creeks.
On local streets, intersections were improved at Santa Monica Road and Via Real, Reynolds and Carpinteria avenues, and Bailard Avenue and the freeway ramps.
Arguably the most dramatic changes are the new carpool lanes, which motorists on freeways typically find move faster than other lanes.
That could spell some much-needed relief during the slow-moving traffic on weekday mornings and weekend afternoons.
“By opening new peak-period carpool lanes, we are encouraging people to rideshare and use transit during the most heavily congested periods,” Mr. Gubbins said. “The added safety improvements are visible in the improved sight lines for drivers, easier access on and off the freeway with updated ramps, and improved water flow in our creeks with new bridges.”
Marjorie Kirn, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, also praised the improvements.
“Today, our community will experience the direct benefit of new mobility, safety and local connection projects that make up the Highway 101: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara project,” Ms. Kirn said. “We are grateful to the California Transportation Commission for recognizing the importance of this project and the commitment of our community to have more transportation choices to relieve decades long congestion.
“Santa Barbara County’s local transportation sales tax, Measure A, continues to be a valuable funding resource that has enabled SBCAG to leverage significant funds from Senate Bill 1 to fully fund seven of the 10 miles of the Highway 101: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara project,” she said.
Praise also came from Carpinteria City Manager Dave Durflinger. “Our community has been resilient over the last few years, and the improvements to the creek bridges are important to help reduce the risk of flooding for our neighborhoods. We have appreciated the commitment from the entire team to work collaboratively to complete the work while taking our community into account and being a good neighbor.”
Sen. Limón said she was proud to see the work completed.
“We are a community that works regionally between Ventura and Santa Barbara/Goleta, and our policies and planning reflect the needs of our working families on the Central Coast.”