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Some Problem Intersections Could Get Help; Two Roundabouts Proposed For South Coast

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Santa Barbara County map of proposed San Ysidro Road rpundabout

They’re unconventional intersections, but becoming much more common on the Central and South Coasts. Roundabouts bring a little European flair to the region, but more importantly they can improve safety and traffic flow. Now, there’s a proposal to replace two problem intersections in Montecito with roundabouts, to improve safety and traffic flow. One would be at the Olive Mill Road-Coast Village Road intersection, and the other would be at the San Ysidro Road-Jamison Lane intersection.

They’ve become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional signalized intersections. Ones have been added in recent years on Milpas Street next to Highway 101 in Santa Barbara, and at the Highway 154-246 interchange in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The proposed Olive Mill Road roundabout could help deal with what’s been a difficult to navigate crossing for decades, with five streets intersecting at one spot, creating confusion for drivers has to whose turn it is to go next.

But, aside from the traffic flow, and safety improvements, there is an overriding reason traffic engineers are developing the roundabout plans. They are needed to keep traffic flowing as part of a project to widen Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara, adding a carpool lane in each direction. Both parallel projects are just in the early planning stages.

Wednesday night, engineers held a community meeting to talk about the proposals. The designs are intended to allow the roundabouts to be built on already owned public property, which would help minimize costs and delays.

Preliminary estimates are that from engineering to construction and landscaping, the roundabouts would cost about three million dollars each. At this point, there is no funding past the design work that’s underway, so there’s no definitive timeline for the projects. Engineering planners say key to the roundabouts will be whether voters keep SB1, the state’s gas tax in place. A proposal to repeal it is on the November ballot. It’s currently supplying key funding for local projects like the roundabouts.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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