Montecito Segment of 101 Project Approved 

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   December 27, 2022

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission unanimously approved the 101 project through Montecito at a hearing last week. “This is the most significant public works project we are going to see in our lifetime,” said Commissioner Laura Bridley. “I’m really proud of what it’s going to be when it’s built,” she said, adding a thank you to planners, County staff, and the Montecito Planning Commission for their input on the project, despite the fact that the MPC was not the governing body for the project. “They deserve some appreciation and recognition because by the time the project got to us, I think that staff and the applicant had smoothed out a lot of issues. I want to thank them for their hard work,” she said. 

The project includes widening 1.4 miles of both directions of the freeway, from just before the Romero Creek bridge to Olive Mill Road. The project will add a third, part-time High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane that will be in effect on weekdays from 6 am to 9 am, and 3 pm to 6 pm, and includes replacing the existing roadway pavement with 40-year concrete pavement; installation of median barriers, guardrails, fencing, retaining walls, and new landscaping; reconstruction of the freeway bridges over Cabrillo Boulevard plus a new southbound on-ramp; and replacement of the bridges over Romero Creek, San Ysidro Creek, and
Oak Creek. 

The project includes a concrete mix site within the construction zone, which rep Kirsten Ayars told the Commission will serve to reduce truck miles, save taxpayer money, reduce water use, and reduce off-site neighborhood impacts. The concrete mix site will be shielded for noise abatement, and there are measures in place to reduce alarm beeping, reduce back-up beepers on trucks, and to monitor noise with on-site inspectors. “We want to be good neighbors,” Ayars said. The area will also be landscaped after the mixer is removed. 

Conditions of the project approved by the Commission include Caltrans revisiting adding sound walls – which were removed from the proposal back in February – based on future flood analysis maps. There is also required to be a noise-complaint process, which Ayars said would be accessible and personalized. 

The Montecito segment of the project is expected to start as early as next year and will be completed in fall 2026. The first phase of the project is funded while the second phase of funding has yet to be obtained. 

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