Yesterday afternoon, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and Caltrans presented preliminary designs for the Montecito section of Highway 101 to the Montecito Association‘s Land Use/Transportation Committee. There was a lot to take in, so I’m breaking it into two posts. This one is about Phase 4, Segment D, which includes the Olive Mill and San Ysidro interchanges, and for which funding is still in the works.
Now, on to Montecito. The main purpose, of course, is to widen the highway to three lanes in each direction; the new third lane will be an HOV lane. There will also be an auxiliary lane between the Olive Mill and San Ysidro, so the onramp essentially turns into the offramp, if that makes sense. (There is/was one between Sheffield and Evans.) And the dangerous southbound onramp at San Ysidro Road will be made much longer, so you’ll actually have time to get up to speed before merging onto the highway.
Finding space for the two new lanes in each direction means getting rid of plantings—including the magnificent trees—in the median. (This is not news, but it’s still disappointing.) Instead, the design adds planters along the shoulder and sound walls. In the second slide below, you’ll see that the short barrier in the median has a band along the top to match the textured checkerboard pattern in the sound wall.
The presentation then shifted to specific moments along the corridor. Each pink dot below indicates the viewpoint of the subsequent rendering. There were fewer photographs of existing conditions, but you probably have a good sense of what the freeway looks like. In the renderings directly below, note the timber rail along the overpass (which is being refurbished rather than rebuilt) and a better look at the median barrier.
What’s notable about the next renderings is the landscaping, made to look like something out of Avatar or an aquarium. I’d be surprised and delighted if they can achieve anything that lush and colorful, although the homeless may only find it more appealing.
And that’s it for 4D. All in all, I think it looks pretty great, considering the myriad restrictions faced by the designers—not just in terms of space, but also adhering to design standards for the freeway in general. Next up: 4E, from Olive Mill north past the Cabrillo interchange.
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