Safer bike lanes and walkways planned for lower State Street

$5-million grant will be requested in July

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Efforts to come up with a fresh look with a newly designed bike lane and pedestrian walkway has been approved by the Santa Barbara City Council for lower State Street.  

The project will be at the U.S. Highway 101 underpass that was built back in 1991. It has stark gray walls and stairwells to parking and shopping areas. Last year, a broad effort began to improve the attractiveness of the area.  A community meeting resulted in hundreds of ideas from architects, artists, and many residents with an interest in the area.

Transportation demands are vastly different these days than they were 25 years ago, and the city is adding more of a priority on amenities for those who are not using cars in the downtown corridor. Transportation officials say pedestrian traffic volumes have increased in the area.  

This is a major corridor for those going to and from the waterfront. In recent years, thousands of people each week are using this walkway for access to the Funk Zone, the new Hotel Californian project, the train station, dining, shopping and it's also the main artery for tourists who have parked near the beach and walk to the downtown zone.

The street slope has been determined to be a contributing factor to speed and safety issues.

The city says the narrow walkways now are not functional for the number of people using the underpass. It has been called uninviting.

Ultimately the city would like to see the five-lane section of State Street reduced to three lanes with more room for those on foot, and a buffered bike lane. That is expected to be a vital design aspect to reduce collisions.

The cost of this project will be $5-million. The city will add it to the capital improvement funding program and Caltrans will be applying for an Active Transportation Planning Grant for the project in July. The city is looking into the possibility that an offer of some local funds will improve the chances of a grant approval.

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