Dimly-lit, skateboard-mangling sidewalks and uneven, pothole-dotted road surfaces may soon be a distant memory for Isla Vista residents.
Over the past two years, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has set aside an estimated $2,865,000 for a project intended to enhance safety and convenience in I.V. by repairing damaged roads, sidewalks and beach access structures, and by replacing street lights with brighter bulbs.
Last summer, the Public Works Dept. repaved Sabado Tarde Road and El Colegio Road. Additional repairs on other roads in I.V. are expected to run well into 2002.
3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, who spearheaded the project, said the street repairs are an important safety improvement for I.V.
“I am proud to be able to say that we have focused our attention on Isla Vista,” Marshall said. “Beginning this summer with the Embarcadero Loop, the Public Works Dept. will be working on most of the streets in I.V. over the course of the year. This is a straightforward approach to public safety in Isla Vista.”
At Marshall’s request, the county budgeted $1.1 million for roads and $1 million for sidewalks last year. This year, an additional $300,000 was allocated for road repairs and $365,000 for sidewalks, as well as $100,000 for the repairs on the beach access structures. The county will also pay for the adjustment of 250 streetlights, which will cost roughly $11 per light, according to Marshall.
Mark Chaconas, Marshall’s assistant, said the repeated beatings by brutal El Ni–o storms in the late 1990s made normal repairs impossible.
“Since the storms have subsided, we are now able to focus on classic public works projects instead of the emergency repairs we were forced to accomplish three and four years ago. There’s going to be a lot of work around,” he said. “Every year the county goes through the process of funding streets and sidewalks, and in the past two years, Supervisor Marshall has made a priority of funding the ones in Isla Vista.”
Nearly all the heavily traveled roads in I.V. are slated to be either resealed or overlayed, a process that puts .10″ to .15″ of new asphalt on the road, according to SBC Public Works Transportation Engineer James Marrs. El Colegio Road, Sabado Tarde Road, Camino Corto, Camino Pescadero, Del Playa Drive, Los Carneros Road and Trigo Road are among the thoroughfares targeted for repairs.
“We break up the job by type of work, whether [the road] will be resealed or overlayed. A contractor will move into an area and work on a road, and then move back in to stripe it after the curing period,” Marrs said.
“It’s difficult to predict the exact dates [of maintenance], however, because several different contractors are doing the work. [Work on] Camino Corto and Camino Pescadero will begin the soonest, probably within the next two weeks,” he said.
Lesley Robin, a 20-year-old dramatic arts major and I.V. resident, said the $1.3 million designated to repair the sidewalks is a good step towards increasing pedestrian safety.
“I think sidewalk repairs would be a good thing to spend money on because a lot of them are really messed up. Every night when I drove home from work, it’s annoying because there are always people walking in the streets because there is no sidewalk. Sidewalks are a good thing, especially considering [the fatal accident] that happened last year,” Robin said.
Repair of the beach access staircases will also be completed during the school year. A new design for the stairway leading to the beach on Del Playa will be fitted with a new steel base in place of the aging wooden one. Additionally, the present hand railing will also be replaced with a steel one, said Marrs.
The plan for new lighting was developed jointly between the Edison Company and the Public Works Dept., and aims to improve each light in the area within the year. Edison will retrofit streetlights, replacing 5900 lumen lights bulbs with brighter 9500 lumen lights.
Chaconas said adequate lighting is just as integral to creating a safer I.V. as good roads and sidewalks.
“We have been working on the street light issue for a while, and Edison agreed to help and work toward the goal of public safety. Streetlights are a part of the plan,” he said. “Edison has agreed to retrofit all the lights in Isla Vista to [have] a brighter bulb, so every light you see in town will be brighter. It will focus initially on an area near Del Playa and Sabado Tarde and that phase should be done by next month. Phase two, the loop near Embarcadero, should begin by next month.”
“If there is a specific area that people feel needs additional lighting, they can contact our office and we can send Edison to go out there and work on that,” he said.
Marshall’s office can be reached at 568-2192.