Safety improvements in railroad areas of Santa Barbara underway

Grand Jury report cites dangerous zones

Increased safety measures are being taken around the train tracks in Santa Barbara after a critical report from the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury.  (John Palminteri/

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara is making safety improvements in the railroad corridor through the city at the same time as a Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report addresses fatalities in the area.

It involves more than just having more horns going off and crossing arms at rail-street crossings.

"It is pretty loud even if you have your headphones on," said resident Roxanne Solakian about the train horns on both the Pacific Surfliner and Union Pacific freight trains.

There are new safety arms in place at Milpas Street and State Street for both cars and pedestrians.

Cyclist Rick Cremeen said, "This is pretty noisy here now. This should be pretty safe."

We found many adults who make sure kids are learning about train track safety at an early age.

Soily Gammino has been taking care of two kids for the summer. At the State Street crossing, she said, "He's been to summer camp called Safety Town, so he learned to stop, watch, listen. So that is very helpful, but also they hold my hand when we cross the street, especially on the train track."

One of the crossings by Milpas Street has multiple signs for the public and drivers to see about where to stop and reminders to look for the trains.

There's also new railings that guide the pedestrians into a designated area for crossing instead of wherever they want.

Distracted pedestrians, similar to distracted drivers, can always still be a risk.

"You know a lot of people are on their cell phones, and they are looking down and not paying attention," said Solakian.

A study shows most of the fatal accidents in recent years have been between Ortega Hill to about Los Patos Way. There's also an area of serious concern from behind the Santa Barbara Zoo near Milpas Street to Castillo Street.

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