San Ysidro Roundabout Moves Forward

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   June 18, 2020

After over 25 hours of digging through the details of the San Ysidro Road Roundabout project, the Montecito Planning Commission approved the project last week in a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Susan Keller was the dissenting vote, saying the project, in her opinion, is not consistent with the Montecito Community Plan.

The project has been an extremely polarizing topic in the community, with over 70 letters submitted to the Montecito Planning Commission both in opposition and support of the project, which planners say will alleviate traffic issues at the clunky intersection of San Ysidro Road, North Jameson Lane, and the Highway 101 entrance and exit.

The roundabout project is one of three parallel projects to improve local traffic flow in conjunction with the widening of Highway 101. The project includes replacing the current intersection with an oblong-shaped roundabout and adding a four-way stop on the other side of the bridge, at San Ysidro and South Jameson Lane (near the Rosewood Miramar Resort). The single-lane roundabout will include pedestrian access on every leg of the intersection, including crosswalks that connect with paved walkways through the medians or refuge areas. The roundabout gives enough space for bicycles to traverse the lane, or bicyclists can get off their bikes and walk in the eight-foot-wide pedestrian/sidewalk areas.

The area will be heavily landscaped per the conditions of the project, clearly delineating the transition from freeway to neighborhood. The rest of the landscape plan includes drought tolerant landscaping and native trees – Monterey Cypress, Coast Live Oaks, and cherry trees – providing a buffer between the roundabout and the adjacent Hedgerow neighborhood. Signage is limited to coastal access and safety signs, and lighting will be minimized with current cobra head lights being replaced with mission bell lights, bringing light nearly eight feet closer to the ground. The center of the roundabout is proposed to be mounded, so that headlights cannot be seen from neighboring homes, and the oblong shape of the roundabout is designed to bring down traffic speeds to 15-20MPH. Montecito Board of Architectural Review, a Design Working Group, COAST, and the Bicycle Coalition have contributed to the design of the project, which will head back to MBAR for final approval in July.

The project will likely be funded at the same time as the portion of freeway widening through Montecito; an application for that funding will be submitted this summer. Conditions require that the roundabout be built at the same time as the freeway widening, although specific staging plans have yet to be determined.

Both projects are expected to be in construction from 2023-2027.

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