The Highway 101 Widening Is About to Start in Summerland and Montecito

The governmental entities collaborating on the Highway 101 widening sent out a mailer in advance of Thursday’s announcement that the Summerland phase is about to begin. You may or may not have received the mailer yet, and you may or may not read it. And not much of this is news except the fact that the long-gestating widening is finally inching northward—but not without some pain.

The Summerland phase, mapped above, involves the following:

1. A rush-hour carpool lane will be added in each direction (but not activated until the other phases are completed).

2. There will be a new interchange at Sheffield Drive, with new bridges and new on- and off-ramps on the right side of the freeway, instead of the left. This is apparently safer, but it’s also a lot more generic. I do like a left exit….

3. The Ortega Hill Bike Path will get a new sound wall with clear panels, the better to enjoy the views as you ride.

4. The Evans Avenue undercrossing in Summerland will receive wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and new lighting.

As for the pain….

In early November, the southbound on- and off-ramps at Sheffield Drive will close intermittently for a couple of weeks or so, and then the on-ramp will close entirely for as long as the Summerland phase takes—and it’s not estimated to be done until the end of 2023. Drivers are encouraged to use the on-ramp at Via Real and Padaro Lane, because (a) the Evans Avenue undercrossing in Summerland will be closed to cars intermittently through the end of 2021, and (b) the southbound on-ramp at Wallace Avenue will close for up to three months, probably starting late summer/early fall of 2021) The southbound Sheffield off-ramp should only be closed for 16 months; drivers are encouraged to exit the freeway at San Ysidro Road.

The northbound Sheffield on- and off-ramps won’t close till the fall of 2021, although there may be occasional closures for the movement of equipment.

As we’ve seen in the Carpinteria phase, Highway 101 will still have two lanes open during daytime hours, with occasional nighttime lane closures. But you’re going to want to avoid the Sheffield/101 area—and all the roads that lead in and out of it—for a long time.

P.S. The Padaro phase, linking the Summerland and Carpinteria segments, is slated to start in the summer of 2021.


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Sheffield overpass should have fill-ins between the bridge’s existing wooden barrier/railing posts. All that to limit the road (rolling tire) noise


I really dislike the awful noise barrier wall design choice. They’re so ugly. As soon as they went up in Carp I gasped. They’re at once ’70s and hideously pomo late ’90s at the same time. They look cheap and out of place here. Why not just do plain cinder block and cover it in creeping fig, or something else that will climb? If I had all the money in the world, I’d offer to pay to clad them in local stone. Wouldn’t that be nice! Ha.