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Work begins on new Montecito walking trail in former mudflow disaster zone

Olive Mill trail Februry 26, 2020
A new walking trail in Montecito is being constructed along Olive Mill Road where the mudflow on January 9, 2018 caused widespread damage. (Photo: John Palminteri)

MONTECITO, Calif. - The aftermath and cleanup of the worst disaster in Montecito history comes with another improvement project to restore and beautiful the area.

The Bucket Brigade has collaborated with several groups and agencies to make a new connecting walking trail from North Jameson Lane to Hot Springs along Olive Mill Road.

Work began this week.

It will be wide enough for pedestrians, strollers, and wheelchairs.

Joining in with the project are the Montecito Trails Foundation, the Montecito Community Foundation, an anonymous donation from a neighbor in the area, Steve Hansen Construction and the County of Santa Barbara through the Public Works Department.

The project will cost about $50,000.

On the final day of work, the Deckers corporation is sending employees over for a community service day to help with the finishing touches on the surface including the planting of some succulent plants.

The project is expected to be completed on April 2.

This is a pedestrian gateway to the community,    " said Abe Powell with the Bucket Brigade. "There are so many walking trails that have been created by the Montecito Trails that are in and around the community that a lot of people don't even know about and this trail accesses a couple of them".

The trail will have a unique look that fits the area without pouring concrete walkways.

"It's going to be very nice it is going to have landscaping we are going to have  succulents  and you are going to be able to connect back from the road back along  the creek," said Shiela Snow with the Montecito Trails Association.

That is a vital component and a specific off shoot that will go east through a route adjacent to the creek.

Later this year it is where a new bridge will be installed. That existed up until the Montecito mudflow catastrophe on January 9, 2018 when it was washed out. The bridge will connect another trail, over the creek, and towards San Ysidro Lane.

The bridge work should be done in the summer.

This work and other nearby trail improvements also create a "safe routes to school" grid for students to walk or ride bikes to nearby schools without having the risks of being near vehicular traffic.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.