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Construction began on UCSB’s West Campus bluff trail this week to counteract the effects of years of erosion and faulty drainage.
The 2,620-foot trail spans from the western edge of Isla Vista to the Coal Oil Point Reserve and is used daily by runners, surfers, bikers and other community members. According to a press release, the project was first recommended seven years ago by UCSB’s Long Range Development Plan and since acquired over $192,000 in funding from A.S. Coastal Fund and B.I.K.E.S. as well as $175,000 from the Coastal Conservancy, but didn’t commence until this week.
Ray Aronson, UCSB Campus Design and Construction Services associate director, said a temporary path will be marked off to allow continued coastal access during construction.
“There will be little to no disruption,” Aronson said. “There will be alternate routes for pedestrians, bicyclers and surfers.”
Coastal Conservancy spokesperson Rachel Couch said crews plan to stabilize the existing path, restore plant life and landscape.
“The project includes removal of the existing trail headers — wood pieces that line the trail — re-grading the trail to improve drainage, construction of a new trail that consists of a base layer, decomposed granite and new header, removing the concrete paths that are from old buildings and walkways, realigning the trail and habitat restoration,” Couch said.
Additionally, Couch said the new paved path will prevent bicyclists, pedestrians and joggers from straying off the route to find shortcuts.
“We want to make sure the trail doesn’t fall into the eroding bluff edge,” she said. “But also, it’s very muddy and it gets really difficult to travel on the trail. People end up going off the trail. It makes a bigger and bigger problem.”
The reconstruction is projected to be complete in March.