Santa Barbara County officials spoke at the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate meeting on Wednesday, yielding questions about the upcoming traffic signal installation at the Pardall Road and Embarcadero Del Norte intersection.
The officials included Gina Fischer, a representative of Third District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, Scott McGolpin, county public works director, Bert Johnson, county traffic engineer and James McKarrell, a representative of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol.
The representatives were not expected to speak at UCSB until the project was closer to completion in the summer, but a petition created by A.S. Senator Alex Giolito last week prompted county officials to come sooner.
The petition calls for the termination of the project and urges alternative methods of controlling the intersection’s traffic flow to be considered.
“I know they spent a lot of work on it and appreciate them addressing the current solution, but I believe alternatives can still be reached,” Giolito said.
In the petition, Giolito said the signal would stop hundreds of bikes during rush hour and thus “clog” the intersection.
McKarrell said Isla Vista Foot Patrol recognized the intense volume of traffic at the Pardall intersection almost a decade ago in 1998. However, it was not until 2007 that possible solutions were discussed. In 2013, county officials proposed the idea of a traffic signal.
“I think it will actually help the bikes and pedestrians to all get through, and people will always know who has the right of way,” McGolpin said.
Bert Johnson emphasized the simplicity of the traffic light’s design, noting that the signal would include an additional mast arm clearly visible to bikers so they will be able to see the signal before arriving at the intersection.
At the meeting, Giolito asked if county officials had considered the possibility of cars speeding on the six-and-a-half-block stretch of Embarcadero Del Norte, from Embarcadero Hall to Picasso Road.
Johnson said the Santa Barbara Public Works Department has found that car speeds average around 29 miles per hour. He added that after the signal is installed, they will test the speeds again to ensure they do not exceed the 30-mile-per-hour range.
A.S. Senator Aaron Hendizadeh asked the officials about how the new traffic light would be enforced.
According to McKarrell, the I.V. Foot Patrol will initially implement a warning period for people who do not abide by the new traffic light. He said after a certain period of time, if people do not adhere to the signal, then enforcement will begin.
McKarrell added, however, that the most important aspect of enforcing the signal is the safety of pedestrians and bikers at the intersection.
“The only tools we have are educating the community on how to be safe and the other is enforcement,” McKarrell said. “The officers don’t want to come out here and start handing out citations. We have matters that are much more serious, but it is your safety that’s paramount.”
The officials addressed alternative solutions to the signal, such as additional bike lanes in I.V. or funneling bike traffic more evenly to and from campus from I.V.; however, all of these solutions were “too multilayered” to be deemed feasible.
The officials suggested future discussions about the traffic signal closer to the beginning of the signal’s construction.
A version of this story appeared on p. 3 of the Feb. 23, 2017, edition of the Daily Nexus.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly named A.S. Senator Aaron Hendizadeh as “Aaron Hernandez.”