Construction to start next month at intersection with Coast Village Road
This week’s meeting to assuage Montecito residents’ concerns about the impact of the planned Olive Mill Roundabout “went great,” according to Mayor Randy Rowse.
The Santa Barbara mayor said Caltrans spokeswoman Kirsten Ayars did a terrific job addressing issues of construction delays, alternative routes and signage to minimize the impact on drivers.
“She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the neighborhoods, streets and alleys,” Mayor Rowse told the News-Press.
The Olive Mill Roundabout is intended to improve traffic flow at the intersection at Olive Mill Road, Coast Village Road, North Jameson Lane, the northbound Highway 101 off-ramp at Olive Mill Road and the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp at Olive Mill Road. The Montecito intersection is within Santa Barbara city limits.
Construction is scheduled from November 2022 through summer 2023.
The public meeting, held Tuesday at the Montecito Inn, drew a standing-room-only crowd of 30 to 40 people seeking answers to their construction-related concerns, Mayor Rowse said.
Ms. Ayers sought to answer all the questions, leading the discussion on construction staging and access, and reviewing expectations for delays.
“The meeting went great,” Mayor Rowse said. “She had an answer for everything.”
Further, he said, “anytime you have the city, county and Caltrans together in the same room and they’re all talking is a miracle unto itself.”
Plans are underway to post signs along Cabrillo Boulevard listing alternate routes, set up barricades where necessary, and to have flagmen at the ready to guide motorists through the worst traffic-clogged areas, they said.
“The priority is to have as little disruption as possible,” Mayor Rowse said.
“Everyone is excited about the improvements, but they’re nervous and concerned about how it will go in construction,” Ms. Ayars, president of Ayars & Associates, added.
The problem is compounded by the fact that the intersection of Olive Mill Road and Coast Village Road will remain open to drivers alongside ongoing roundabout construction, she said.
“It’s a tight, restrictive space already,” Ms. Ayars said. “It’s a challenging project all the way around.”
She said flagmen will be on hand during the busiest times of day, from 7-9 a.m. and 3:30-6 p.m. “to help people move through the intersection.” At most, she said, motorists should experience a five- to 10-minute delay.
Ms. Ayars said the project will begin in mid-November, with construction starting in mid-November and running through spring. Landscaping is scheduled to continue through summer 2023.
Mayor Rowse said the most difficult time for drivers will be when the Olive Mill Road freeway off-ramps are closed.
Ms. Ayars said the northbound off-ramp will be closed from mid-November through summer 2023, and the southbound off-ramp will be closed from mid-November through the end of the year.
The aim of the Olive Mill Road roundabout, located at the southern end of the road, is to improve traffic flow through the five-way intersection, especially since traffic is expected to increase following the widening of Highway 101 in that area, Mayor Rowse said.
He urged motorists to try and find ways around construction-related delays whenever possible.
“Unless they have business on Coast Village Road, they should find other ways to get to work,” Mayor Rowse said.