SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. - You can't beat our scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains throughout the south and central coasts, but some say there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to driving the roads between them.
So, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) partnered with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to conduct a Santa Ynez Valley Traffic Circulation and Safety Study.
A group of 50 local residents loaded up in a Chumash bus and took a tour of a dozen designated sites on Tuesday.
"The tribe is committed to participating in looking at the overall traffic and safety in the valley," said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman of the Santa Ynez Bank of Chumash Indians. "We want to thank the county and SBCAG for making sure the tribe is involved in this."
The group navigated the well-traveled highways, looking to see which areas jam up with traffic, and where pedestrian and bicycle safety issues and business needs must be addressed.
"We want to hear from the community," said Joan Hartmann, Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor. "All of us are smarter than any one of us. We need to put our heads together to keep the quality of life that we enjoy here in the valley and deal with our transportation issues."
Half of the sites were off Highway 246, including the Albertson's parking lot and the busy intersection at Alamo Pintado; the other half were along Highway 154, including the roundabout, which is often confusing for some drivers to navigate.
Participants made notes along the way then shared their findings afterwards at Hotel Corque.
Senior Engineer Deepak Kaushik of Iteris said the consulting firm will submit the groups' observations and suggestions in a report that will include possible recommendations and solutions for problems areas.
Once Highway 154 reopens after storm repairs, Kaushik said a traffic count study will be conducted at various congestion points along that busy corridor.
Caltrans contributed $300,000 dollars in grant funding for the study, along with matching funds of $25,000 dollars from both the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash and SBCAG.
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