Students frustrated by the incomplete sidewalk and lack of bicycle access along the trek from Segovia Road to campus may see a respite to their commute troubles by the end of the year.
The Santa Barbara County Public Works Dept. is currently finalizing a plan to connect the campus to a sidewalk on the southern side of Greek Park. The sidewalk, located along Segovia, will be expanded to create a straight path to the campus after the area’s landowners approve the plan. Kris Miller-Fisher, third district director of special projects, said the plan may also include the removal of steps leading from the end of Segovia to campus in order to create a clear path for bicycle traffic.
Isla Vista Recreation and Park District General Manager Derek Johnson said he supports expanding the sidewalks alongside the district-owned Greek Park because he thinks it will make I.V. safer for those that walk to campus.
“Pedestrian safety is always an important issue,” Johnson said. “We like to do what we can to facilitate easier access for Isla Vista residents.”
Currently, a sidewalk lines only the western end of the park along Embarcadero del Norte.
Public Works Dept. Project Manager Ron Bensel said he thinks extending the sidewalk – a project that he said may be completed by the end of 2005 – will encourage residents not to walk in the street or on private property when traveling between I.V. and UCSB.
Bensel said the county has been trying to improve pedestrian traffic through I.V. for the past 13 years and the $350,000 sidewalk-extension project is another step in those efforts.
“We’ve been trying to provide continuing sidewalk segments in Isla Vista for quite some time now,” Bensel said. “We’re trying to consistently work through the area.”
Bensel said the cost of the sidewalk expansion will be covered by funds from Measure D, a ballot item approved by voters in 2004 that calls for a half-cent sales tax increase over a period of 20 years to finance community improvements.
“The budget [for the sidewalk program] is distributed across two years and includes everything from the environmental analysis, to design, to production,” Bensel said.
Ashlee Hughes, a junior art history major who lives on Segovia, said she thinks the project will be a waste of money because extending the sidewalk will not stop people from walking in the street.
“People just walk in the streets as it is,” Hughes said. “I’m not sure what a sidewalk would do. I think it would be more beneficial to spend the money on increasing parking.”
However, sophomore business economics major and Segovia resident Susan Beresford said she feels that creating a bicycle-accessible connection from Segovia to UCSB would make her life easier.
“That is a brilliant idea, because I ride my bike everywhere and right now I have to go all the way around to Pardall,” Beresford said. “That would be sweet.”