Santa Barbara County officials have determined that wider is better as they prepare to add two lanes to El Colegio Road alongside Isla Vista.
The proposed changes are part of the I.V. Master Plan, which was created in 1999 and sponsored by UCSB, Santa Barbara County and the I.V. Recreation and Park District with the intention of revitalizing the community. According to an environmental impact report, the El Colegio Road Improvement Project accommodates the increased traffic flow that is expected from the nearly complete UCSB San Clemente Graduate Student Housing project.
The new UCSB graduate housing will provide 978 spaces to students and is expected to officially open in Winter 2008.
As for the construction, the road widening will undergo two phases. The first phase consists of widening El Colegio Road from two lanes to four in the stretch that begins on campus and ends at the intersection of Camino Del Sur. The second phase will continue the widening of the road to its end point at Storke Road.
David Ward, deputy director of development review for South Santa Barbara County, said both widening phases will involve the implementation of left turn pockets as well as medians, traffic signals, street lighting and pavement.
First-year biology major Kaitlyn Wing said she frequently drives on the road and thinks the construction will improve access.
“The construction will really help ease the traffic flow,” Wing said.
According to the environmental impact report, the construction will last approximately eight months and take place during non-peak hours and outside of academic sessions. The county will divert traffic to Mesa Road for the majority of the eight-month construction period.
The county will also provide temporary bike routes and walkways during the construction to accommodate pedestrian traffic.
Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County Planning and Development has researched the impact of the proposed changes on the surrounding area and prepared a Draft Initial Study and Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration. The draft concludes that substantial environmental effects on air quality, noise, transportation and aesthetics will take place, but that construction workers will try to minimize these effects as well.
Ward said a copy of the declaration is available online at www.sbcountyplanning.org and at the county’s Planning and Development Office should the public wish to view the project details.
“The county is seeking public comments for review,” Ward said.
The public has until Oct. 25 to voice opinions or concerns to the proposed plan before it goes up for review in December of this year. Community members may direct comments and inquiries to the county’s Office of Long Range Planning Deputy Director Joy Hufschmid at email@example.com.