GAVIOTA COAST, Calif. - One of the most unique coastal areas in California is now preserved with a scenic highway designation.
It is Highway 101 from just past Goleta up to Highway 1 on the other side of the Gaviota tunnel.
"Except for the military base down near San Diego it is the last open stretch between here and the Mexican border," said Steve Forsell, Vice President of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy.
Forsell took part in a ceremony with CalTrans District Director Timothy Gubbins, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann and former Supervisor Doreen Farr.
“Is there anything nicer?” said Forsell. “Anyone who has lived in California and driven up and down the coast, there's some beautiful places, but in Southern California there's nothing as beautiful as the Gaviota coast. 30 miles of ecstasy"
What exists now will be the basis to measure any changes proposed on this stretch of the coastline.
"For the visitors, the highway will look really similar to this. If it changes at all it will be done in the context of the scenic highway," said Gubbins. "It means when CalTrans is working here or when we are working with conservancies that are working on the California coastal trail, it's all part of the context."
Hartmann went back in history saying “ this was the route of the spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra. This area was also the home to the Chumash Indians. They are probably the oldest living indigenous people on the North American continent."
It’s an extremely busy stretch of highway and one of the two north-south routes in the state.
The new designation also expected to be an economic driver for the area.
"Many people in California use it to attract tourism because people say ‘if i am going that direction. I think I will go on a scenic highway'. It is something that can encourage tourism and people to come in to take that particular route," said Gubbins.
Signs for the designated highway will be going up just past Goleta on the northbound side and southbound they will be installed before the Gaviota tunnel.