Give your brakes a rest, because the drive from Santa Barbara to Ventura may be quicker and more spacious – eventually.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) approved the Highway 101 Implementation Plan yesterday. SBCAG and Caltrans developed the plan in order to reduce traffic congestion on 101 by adding lanes from Milpas Street to the Ventura County line. The plan will also include alternative transportation projects.

First District Supervisor Naomi Schwartz said the main purpose of the plan is action.

“This implementation plan is intended to result in a project, not study a project,” Schwartz said. “Our goal here is to enable people to move on the 101 corridor better than they can now.”

Lompoc Mayor Dick DeWees said the only thing that could possibly stop the freeway expansion would be a lack of money.

“This study is no guarantee that any of this is going to get done,” DeWees said. “It all depends on funding.”

Carpinteria City Council member Richard Weinberg said other projects aimed at traffic relief – including those at Ortega Hill Road, Milpas/Hot Springs Road and Linden Avenue/Casitas Pass Road – are also on schedule. Goleta Mayor Jack Hawxhurst said implementing the 101 plan now might hinder the county’s ability to reduce traffic congestion in the future.

“We’re moving ahead with operational implementation to add capacity, but this would limit the possibility of future lanes to some extent,” Hawxhurst said. “We’re bringing future congestion to the present and we’ll be staring at this again in 2005. This should be very educational.”

Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall said she is impressed with the development of the plan.

“The plan has matured nicely over time and it does what it’s supposed to do,” Marshall said. “We’re going to have results. This is an action plan and it’s time for action.”

Funding for the project will come partially from money generated by Measure D, a countywide, half-cent sales tax passed in 1989. Measure D will be in effect until 2009 and is expected to generate $481 million. In June SBCAG approved an allocation of $27 million from the fund for local transportation projects for the 2003-04 fiscal year.

To date, approximately $265 million has been generated by Measure D. The program allocates 70 percent of the funds to local cities and the county, 0.5 percent to regional transit programs and 29.5 percent to regional highway projects.

SBCAG was formed in 1966 and is made up of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and one city council representative from each city in the county.