The second portion of a five-segment construction project to add peak-period carpool lanes along Highway 101 between Santa Barbara and Carpinteira is set to begin on the evening of Nov. 1.
In addition to the new freeway lanes, the Highway 101: Summerland project will include new bridges and undercrossings at Evans Avenue and Sheffield Drive, along with highway ramp and drainage improvements, according to Caltrans officials.
On Oct. 22, the California Transportation Commission voted to allocate approximately $89 million of construction funds for the project from the Senate Bill 1 Solutions for Congested Corridors Program, Regional Gas Tax Program and State Highway Operations and Protection Program. The project construction and landscaping costs are approximately $113 million, according to officials.
“The Highway 101: Summerland project includes locally-inspired design elements that will highlight the unique community of Summerland at the Evans Avenue Undercrossing,” 1st District Supervisor and Santa Barbara County Association of Governments Director Das Williams said in a statement. “In addition, there will be important drainage improvements and the much anticipated third lane in each direction throughout Summerland that will create peak-period carpool lanes to help address ongoing traffic congestion.”
Over the summer, Caltrans and SBCAG applied for state funding for the two remaining segments in Montecito and Santa Barbara to complete construction in the area. The CTC will vote on SB1 funding awards early next month.
“This project will create new right-hand on- and off-ramps at the Sheffield Drive Interchange. This is an important safety improvement because currently southbound vehicles are traveling up over Ortega Hill and traffic is merging on and off the freeway with old, sub-standard left-hand ramps,” Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said in a statement. “Coupled with the added spectacular ocean views on this hill, merging into the fast lane causes regular traffic backups. Additionally, we will be improving on- and off-ramps on Evans and Wallace Avenues and adding two new sound walls.”
SBCAG Executive Director Marjie Kim said the improvements are made possible due to Measure A, the local transportation sales tax, “that continues to prove to be a valuable funding resource to leverage significant funds from Senate Bill 1.”
Motorists are advised of initial safety fencing, vegetation removal, tree trimming, safety barriers to shift lanes, and work to build up outside shoulders that will occur when construction begins.
Then lanes will be shifted, and construction will focus on the median and fast lanes of the 101. Construction of public works projects is an essential government service even during current COVID-19 pandemic health measures. The 101 project team is working to ensure that these needed improvements are built while accommodating safe working conditions, officials said.
In total, the CTC last week approved more than $830 million to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s network of pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit routes.
Some $42 million has been approved for additional work on the 101 in Summerland, from north of the Padaro Lane overcrossing to north of Sheffield Avenue. The project includes replacing existing pavement, widening the outside shoulders, replacing the guardrail and upgrading drainage systems.
The CTC approved more than $43 million for 18 complete streets projects that will augment existing state highway projects with additional bicycle and pedestrian safety features. This includes bike routes, enhanced crosswalks and sidewalk gap closures.
More than $36 million was approved for rail and mass transit projects, including freight, intercity rail and bus services. This investment includes $30 million for the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, which enhances the movement of goods along corridors with high freight volume through projects that improve state highways, local roads, freight rail systems, port facilities and truck corridors.
Project funding is derived from federal and state gas taxes, including $637 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The state’s portion of SB 1 funds are used for the ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation of the State Highway System.
By 2027, these funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges, 55,000 culverts, and 7,700 traffic operating systems that help improve highway access, such as ramp meters, traffic cameras and electric highway message signs.