The Los Carneros Road overpass will be rebuilt in the next year – as soon as the Goleta City Council determines whether or not it is responsible for overseeing the task.

The plan to rebuild the overpass, known as the Overhead and Widening Project, will replace the present bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad on Los Carneros Road in order to provide a right turn lane for entrance onto southbound Highway 101.

The project is designed to accommodate an anticipated increase in traffic due to natural population growth and planned developments. Contractors will also retrofit the bridge for earthquakes, strengthening the structure’s weakening concrete.

Before the overpass is rebuilt, however, the Goleta City Council must decide whether or not responsibility for managing reconstruction of the overpass belongs to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors or the new city.

Council member Cynthia Brock said she expects a decision will be made at next week’s Monday-night meeting.

The project’s total cost is $4.4 million, which will come primarily from state grants. The California Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program will give nearly $3 million and the California State Transportation Improvement Program will give $800,000. State gasoline taxes from Measure D, which was designated to fund road improvements, will also give the project approximately $300,000.

Project Manager Gerald Comati, a private contractor hired by the county, said the project has been moving on an accelerated schedule because his team has been working to meet state grant deadlines. The Board of Supervisors approved the preliminary design and environmental impact report a year ago and Comaty said he hopes the council will figure out who has jurisdiction so construction can begin.

“I recommend we keep the ball rolling because any hiccups could hold back STIP funding,” he said.

Interim Goleta City Manager Ed Wohlenberg said he doesn’t want to delay construction by debating who has jurisdiction.

“I don’t want to jeopardize the process,” he said. “I think it can all be done [under the city’s oversight.]”

Goleta City Council member Jack Hawxhurst said he is concerned about the project’s impact on traffic flow on Los Carneros Road because of two other planned construction projects scheduled to be underway by February 2003 – the same time the bridge is scheduled to be rebuilt.

The Bermant Development Company plans to begin construction at the Campus Pointe Business Park on Los Carneros Road, and the Willow Springs Apartment project will also be under construction on the north side of the freeway.

County Public Works officials said most of the traffic would be diverted from the area with minimal problems.

The Goleta City Council will meet next Monday, May 6, at 6 p.m. in the Goleta Union School District boardroom, located at 401 Fairview Ave. in Goleta.