Back-to-Back Roundabouts Proposed for Highway 101’s Cabrillo Interchange

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and Caltrans presented preliminary designs for the Montecito section of Highway 101 to the Montecito Association. As described in this post, the focus was on Phase 4, Segment D, which includes the Olive Mill and San Ysidro interchanges. As a bonus, Segment E—which includes the Cabrillo Boulevard interchange—was also unveiled. It bears repeating that this is all preliminary.

The Segment E presentation kicked off with a slide about design inspiration, and the upper-left rendering below (cropped in for the second image) is of the roundabout planned for Cabrillo and Los Patos Way, which I don’t believe we’ve seen before. I still don’t completely understand why a circle is necessary there, especially once the Los Patos offramp is removed; one of those crosswalks with flashing yellow lights would seem to do the trick.

For some reason, I had been under the impression that the Hermosillo Road exit off the northbound 101 was doomed—maybe because it’s barely signed and Caltrans is on the record as wanting exits to match both directions. But according to this, I was wrong and it’s getting some improvements.

That second image above shows the big news: the design proposes to add another roundabout between the freeway and the one at Coast Village Road, Hot Springs Road, and Old Coast Highway. Back-to-back roundabouts—or back-to-back-to-back, if you count the Los Patos one—may very well be the most elegant and efficient way to move traffic through the interchange, but yikes, local drivers can barely cope with the existing one. They often come to a full stop when the circle is empty or, other cars be damned, plow right on through.

Anyway, here’s another pair of graphics showing how the separate northbound and southbound lanes of the 101 will be pressed together, the better to replace the left northbound exit with a right one.

As with yesterday’s post about the Montecito segment, the pink dot in each graphic indicates the viewpoint of the following rendering.

There’s a fair amount of vegetation, which is welcome. Maybe there should also be a bench at the southbound offramp, for the person invariably asking for money. I’m not mocking homelessness; renderings, by their nature, can’t help but be a little unrealistic.

No pink dot is necessary to understand the next rendering. The designers separated the northbound and southbound lanes to allow for natural light underneath. And on the slopes and along the sidewalk, those are stones embedded in cement, in good part to discourage people from hanging out there.

And here’s the new roundabout.

A certain amount of shoulder is required in order for landscaping. When it doesn’t exist, we get more of those embedded stones.

The Montecito Association’s Land Use/Transportation Committee seemed pleased with the designs, so maybe that’s a harbinger of approvals to come. Or they may change as they go through the long process of getting approved….


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Scott Batson

Roundabouts prevent fatal and serious injury crashes. Pedestrian crosswalks do not.