Montecito construction to advance, officials celebrate Padaro Lane crossing
The Montecito portion of the Highway 101: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara project between Olive Mill and Hixon roads will be finished one year ahead of schedule now, thanks to an advancement of $50 million by the project team.
Tim Gubbins, the director of Caltrans District 5, made the announcement Monday morning at the Santa Claus Lane undercrossing at Padaro Lane in Carpinteria.
The announcement came during a ceremony, which was held to mark seven miles under construction, to unveil the Blue Star Memorial Highway Sign in tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces and to announce a World War I memorial between Santa Claus Lane and North Padaro Lane.
Mr. Gubbins said the $50 million advancement was made possible by reprogramming done at the state level, and by working on both the Olive Mill roundabout and the San Ysidro roundabout/improvements at the same time.
“That will help the entire corridor,” the District 5 director said. “It reduces the overall impacts by shortening the construction time frame in the area, and it’s responding to community requests we’ve been getting.”
This acceleration highlights the partnerships between the California Transportation Commission, the federal government and the county and city of Santa Barbara, Mr. Gubbins said, which have also worked to bring in innovative construction methods, even using a quieter concrete surface.
By advancing this portion of the project, residents in the area don’t have to navigate multiple stages of construction for this one area, and crews won’t have to close successive ramps.
“We’re celebrating not just what we’ve accomplished, but the way we’ve accomplished it,” Mr. Gubbins said. “This has really come together well …This is what gives us the ability to move things as quickly as we can from one section to another.”
The Padaro project will add a peak-period carpool lane to Highway 101 in each direction to connect with new lanes in Carpineria and Summerland.
In addition, a new clear-span bridge and on- and off-ramps will be built; the bridges at Arroyo Parida and Toro Creeks will be replaced with drainage improvements along the freeway; three new sound walls will be added; and a new separated bikeway will connect Santa Claus Lane and Carpinteria Avenue near the salt marsh.
The improvements to Padaro cost $200 million, which has been funded by Senate Bill 1, Measure A and other state and federal funds. Construction of the Padaro project begins June 7, and it is anticipated to be complete in 2024.
On top of the advancement announcement, Hilary Norton, chair of the CTC, hinted that more funding for the project is on its way.
“Let’s be clear that the CTC’s work here is not done. We know that there is another application coming to us,” Ms. Norton said at the ceremony, adding that she believes it’s for $190 million in addition to the $184 million already funded. “We are very pleased to be able to say that when people are wondering what’s happening with SB 1 dollars, that you can all tell the story about what the gas tax is doing in this community to make a difference.”
The CTC chair emphasized the importance of improving Highway 101 by pointing out that over the next 20 years, projects like this will create more than $1 billion in savings to the public. In addition, she said the highway is critical for interregional travel and goods movement.
The Highway 101: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara project alone requires a network of 5,000 to 6,000 jobs that are directly connected to it, which Ms. Norton said is valuable considering the region’s needed economic recovery.
“I did want to say that the CTC proposed $2 billion in the governor’s May revised budget. And we are still fighting for that for active transportation projects and we asked for $500 million specifically for bike corridor programs, so please let your state officials know,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, unveiled a mock-up of the Blue Star Memorial Highway Sign. Watching were attendees from the Blue Star Mothers of America, the president of the Santa Barbara Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, board members of the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, the director of the Channel Islands District of the California Garden Club and the president of the Las Floralias Garden Club.
The memorial between Santa Claus Lane and North Padaro Lane will feature 108 new oak trees, a center median with oak leaf reliefs, a blue ribbon and Blue Star plaques.
In 1932, Rep. Carbajal explained, the local Boy Scouts planted oak trees and put up plaques to honor World War I veterans, but over the years, many of the trees died and many of the plaques are no longer there.
“This wonderful gesture honors the Boy Scouts’ legacy and recognizes our veterans for their service,” he said. “As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services and as a veteran myself, I could not be more proud of this designation.”
SBCAG will submit funding applications for the third competitive cycle of SB 1 in the fall of 2022 for the construction of the remaining two and a half miles of the corridor project — the Montecito and Santa Barbara segments and Cabrillo Boulevard’s bicycle and pedestrian improvements. SB 1 was signed into law in 2017 to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California, as well as to put more dollars toward transit and safety.
Carpinteria Mayor Wade Nomura attended Monday’s ceremony, and he told the News-Press that it’s exciting for Carpinteria to be the first city to see the final product.
“Carpinterians spend a lot of time in Santa Barbara and Goleta. I mean, that’s the part of the corridor that we use on a daily basis,” he said. “Having that improved is going to be outstanding.”
He praised his constituents for dealing with congestion and traffic jams for as long as they did.
He added that he thinks the project will also lessen impacts from what he calls the “Los Angeles exodus” every weekend, which he said currently “just kills us” in terms of congestion.
“The overall project came out really nice — I think a lot nicer than all of us anticipated,” the mayor said. “We had no real idea how much it was going to be an improvement, but they’ve done a phenomenal job.”
Multiple city officials were guided on an electric bike tour after the event to see and learn more information about the bicycle and pedestrian improvements along Santa Claus Lane. First District Supervisor Das Williams spoke to the importance of the connection the bike lanes — and overall improvements to the area — will provide.
“Historically, northern Carpinteria and southern Carpinteira have been divided by class, race and a freeway. That is being erased by the connections, pedestrian and bike, the project has already provided,” he said. “There are a lot of people, Carpinerians and local people, who have shown up today, which shows you how important this moment is and how much it will mean to us when this project is done.
“We’ve been stuck in traffic here in Carpinteria so long that I don’t think we remember what it was like beforehand, so it actually makes it refreshing to the Carpinteria area because people have such a positive attitude about getting the project done.”
To learn more about the progress of the Highway 101 project, visit sbroads.com.