U.S.101 Will Be Improved and Expanded In Four Phases
U.S. 101 HOV Lane Widening
The good news for motorists and truckers traveling on U.S. 101 is that construction has begun to add northbound and southbound High Occupancy Vehicle (carpool) lanes to the most congested corridor on the Central Coast of California, between Mussel Shoals in Ventura County and the city of Santa Barbara. Upon completion of the project, this 16 mile corridor will be expanded from four to six lanes and be a part of a continuous 40 mile, six lane highway, extending from the city of Ventura in Ventura County to the city of Goleta in Santa Barbara County. The carpool lanes will be the first ever opened on the Central Coast of California.
U.S. 101 is one of two north-south highways in California that connect the Los Angeles basin, with a population of thirteen million, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, with a population of seven million. The other north-south highway, Interstate 5, is periodically closed due to inclement weather and U.S. 101 serves as the primary north-south route in California during those periods.
The corridor is vital to providing access from Central Coast agricultural operations to markets around the country. It also provides critical access to Vandenberg Air Force Base in central Santa Barbara County. Most of the corridor is within the Santa Barbara urbanized area, which includes the University of California at Santa Barbara, defense-related businesses, and hundreds of businesses related to the tourism industry. On a daily basis, thousands of commuters from neighboring Ventura County, interregional truck traffic, and tourists combine for an average traffic volume of 90,000 vehicles per day, exceeding the capacity of the four-lane highway for hours at a time, bringing traffic to a crawl. In anticipation of the opening of the carpool lanes, plans are already being developed to dramatically expand the number of commuter buses traveling the corridor, which will have the advantage of driving in the new lanes during commute hours.
The bad news for motorists is that construction of the expansion project will take an estimated fifteen years to complete. Because of its length and expense, the sixteen mile widening project will be delivered in four phases, with an estimated total cost of nearly $690 million. The project will be funded by $140 million from Measure A, Santa Barbara County's transportation sales tax, and $550 million in state and federal funding.
The project is a collaborative effort between Caltrans, the owner-operator of the highway, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), the primary funding partner, and the local jurisdictions adjacent to the highway including the city of Santa Barbara, city of Carpinteria and County of Santa Barbara.
The eight cities in the county, the County of Santa Barbara, and SBCAG have adopted positions supporting the US 101 HOV widening as our region's highest priority transportation project for federal funding.
The five Central Coast Counties - San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara - have formed a coalition to raise awareness of the U.S. 101 corridor as a major economic asset to the state and nation and encourage investment in the corridor. The Central Coast Coalition members meet regularly with elected officials and transportation administrators from Sacramento and Washington D.C. to ensure that U.S. 101 gets its fair share of attention and resources.
The four phases of the project are:
Phase 1 - Milpas to Hot Springs Operational Improvements Project (1 mile)
Construction on the first phase began in Summer 2008. This phase will widen U.S. 101 to three lanes southbound from Milpas Street to the Hot Springs/Cabrillo interchange in Montecito. Northbound, a new auxiliary lane will be added from the Hot Springs/Cabrillo onramp and the Salinas off ramp and a new third lane will be added from Salinas past Milpas Street. Construction will be completed in 2012 and two lanes in both directions will remain open during construction. Learn more
Phase 2 - Mussel Shoals to city of Carpinteria (6 miles)
The second phase will begin construction in Spring 2012 and take three years to complete. This phase will add northbound and southbound carpool lanes and a Class I bike path on the southbound side of the highway from Rincon to Mussel Shoals. It will also build a pedestrian tunnel under U.S. 101 to provide La Conchita residents with beach access. Learn more
Phase 3 - Linden Avenue/Casitas Pass Interchanges
Phase three includes reconstructing interchanges on U.S. 101 at both Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road in the city of Carpinteria. This will allow the highway to be widened to state standards underneath the Linden and Casitas overpasses and will allow a contiguous extension of the HOV lanes through the city of Carpinteria. Additional improvements include replacing the Carpinteria Creek Bridge on U.S. 101 to meet federal flood flow standards and completing a missing link of Via Real, an adjacent frontage road, to improve local traffic circulation and reduce local traffic using U.S. 101. Construction of these improvements is scheduled to begin in 2014 and completed in 2017. Learn more
Phase 4 - Carpinteria to Santa Barbara (10 miles)
This phase will widen U.S. 101 from four to six lanes to add carpool lanes between the city of Carpinteria and the city of Santa Barbara to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and match the six lane highway south of Carpinteria and north of Santa Barbara. The project's draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is scheduled for release to the public in February 2012. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2016, contingent on the outcome and timing of the environmental document. Learn more