Getting to school on the roads often traveled will be a little easier for Isla Vista residents this year.
The bumpy, uneven road surfaces that once laid in wait for unsuspecting bicyclists and skateboarders are scarcer now that the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department has paved over many of them with a fresh inch of asphalt. In addition to installing sidewalks and making crosswalks more visible, the department fixed problematic roads, such as the intersections of Pardall Road at Embarcadero Del Mar and Embarcadero Del Norte. Deputy Transportation Director Scott McGolpin said his department has increased the quality of life for I.V. residents.
“Isla Vista’s in pretty good shape,” McGolpin said. “We’ve got most of the summer road work completed, so people living in I.V. can expect to see work again [this] December.”
McGolpin said the December project – scheduled to occur when most students are home for vacation – would involve work on the sidewalks, curbs and gutters along the Embarcadero loop.
Mark Chaconas, assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, said the work done this summer marks the final stages of a plan to overhaul roads in I.V.
“These are the last few roads in the entire community [to be] re-paved,” Chaconas said. “Gail set aside money to repair the streets because it is a high priority to add to the quality of life in Isla Vista.”
Marshall’s plan also encompassed improvements to crosswalks, sidewalks and beach access stairs, Chaconas said.
“A new feature that Public Works added was making new crosswalks that are more visible. Before, it was two straight parallel lines, like a railroad track, but now they’re like a ladder. They’re more visible and more vibrant,” Chaconas said, likening the new crosswalks to the one on the cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road. “That’s a move by public works at Gail’s request to do everything they can to make roads safer for people.”
Workers installed sidewalks on the 6600 block of Del Playa Drive. Pedestrian walkways had long been absent from the popular party street and, according to Chaconas, other areas will receive sidewalks as well.
“Everybody knows there’s gaps in the sidewalk system,” he said. “We’ve been working every year with Public Works and local landlords to complete the sidewalks. As the landlords agree to place sidewalks, we’re getting it down in a planned manner. The general priority is to get sidewalks on Del Playa along the 6600 and 6500 blocks and along Camino Pescadero.”
An additional improvement finished this summer was repairing the beach access stairs at the end of Camino Del Sur, as they were severely damaged by storms in 1997 and 1998. The new design, which includes stainless steel and a more porous material that allows water to pass through, cost the county about $60,000.
Last year, Santa Barbara County apportioned $200,000 for the reconstruction of I.V. sidewalks and $132,501 for work on the remaining roads. Isla Vista resident Taryn Phillips, a junior law and society major at UCSB, said she appreciates the improvements.
“It’s really good for people who have to drive through I.V. a lot because it means less wear and tear on my car,” Phillips said. “And it’s good to have sidewalks because now, when I go to parties, I don’t always have to walk through the street. It’s just better this way.”