SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The La Entrada de Santa Barbara Hotel project has been in the works for more than a decade, but mainly it's been a vacant, blighted site on lower State Street.  Now, there's signs of life. 

Crews have begun to work on a street and sidewalk project that will also include new lighting and landscaping from Mason Street to the Union Pacific railroad.

Those familiar with the hotel and retail project proposed there say they expected some changes but many say the current street seems to work well for cars and pedestrians as is.  "They want to enhance it landscape-wise and visually, ya know?" said resident  Leonard Woods.

The developer and the city are working together on this phase of the project.  It will also take two lanes in each direction down to one.  That's expected to calm traffic in the very busy tourist zone.  "They (drivers) need to relax," said resident Donna Brown. "We don't need to be racing around.

The project is expected to be finished by the end of July, just in time for the Old Spanish Days Fiesta parade, which brings thousands to that area.