New sidewalks aim to make walking safer through several areas of Isla Vista.
Over the last five weeks, 700 feet of sidewalk have been added to the high-traffic intersection at Madrid Road and Camino Pescadero. Construction was completed last Monday on the $80,000 project, which is part of a larger plan to improve pedestrian safety in I.V. During the past 10 years, sidewalks have been added to busy areas such as Del Playa Drive and Embarcadero del Mar. Most recently the county installed new sidewalks on a length of Sabado Tarde’s 6600 block.
Public Works Engineer Ron Bensel said the absence of sidewalks in I.V. is a pedestrian safety hazard, forcing people to walk in the streets where there is no sidewalk or the sidewalk suddenly ends. Bensel said while the addition of sidewalks will not change students’ tendency to walk in the streets while partying, it will make it safer for normal pedestrian activity.
“We want to create a continuous path through I.V.,” Bensel said. “When there are sidewalks, people will use them.”
Bensel said the next area due for repairs is Isla Vista’s Embarcadero loop.
“We want to widen the sidewalk and plant Chinese Flower trees in and around the lower loop,” he said. “This will act as a traffic calming measure.”
Bensel said public works projects such as this one are primarily supported through a half-cent tax on gasoline.
Mark Chaconas, assistant to 3rd district supervisor Gail Marshall, said the taxes are used for projects designed to make repairs to roads and bridges. Although the money is used to make repairs in the entire county, Chaconas said the Isla Vista sidewalk project is a high priority.
Chaconas said it is important for members of the community to voice their concerns regarding the condition of their neighborhoods.
“I can walk around I.V. and see what I think needs to be done, but [residents are] there every single day,” Chaconas said.
Junior economics and global studies major Brittney Jacobs said she is excited to see improvements in I.V.
“The condition of I.V. is so terrible that any sort of improvement is appreciated,” she said. “I hope they have more planned because I.V. really needs it.”