SANTA BARBARA — Milpas Street is now under construction after multiple community meetings regarding the safety of the busy corridor. For a year, the community near Milpas and the City of Santa Barbara discussed ways to make the area safer for pedestrians after 15-year-old Sergio Romero was hit and killed while crossing Milpas in the crosswalk this past October. The project will improve traffic and pedestrian safety and revamp the roadway. “When the maintenance work is done, the public will see a new fresh street,” said Adam Hendel, supervising engineer. In the first half of the week, construction crews will remove and replace the concrete gutter and fix pot holes. On Thursday and Friday, the street will be sealed and new stripping will go in. But pedestrian safety is what residents are most concerned with.”We heard quite loud and clear from the community they just want to feel safe crossing the street,” said Derrick Bailey, transportation engineer. Now at two intersections, the city will install pedestrian activated flashing lights. “Milpas and Ortega Street and Milpas and Yanonali Street, we’ll be putting in flashing beacons,” said Hendel. “They’ll be the first ones in Santa Barbara but they’ve got a really good track record nationwide of really improving yielding to pedestrians,” said Bailey. Those and a median refuge island on Ortega Street will go in starting November 26. The roadway will also be changed to one lane in each direction from Cota to Cannon Perdido Street, giving parked cars more room and adding a bike lane. Despite the noise, residents and business owners are glad the improvements are being done. “We know that the result will be that it’ll be safer for bikes, pedestrians and cars in the long run because I think cars will now be driving a little slower and paying more attention to their surroundings,” said Alan Bleecker, president of the Milpas Community Association. A few months after construction is completed, city engineers will conduct a before and after study to see how the new safety improvements are doing. CONSTRUCTION TIMELINE:October 29 – November 9Pavement repairs & slurry sealNovember 26 – December 14Pedestrian flashing beacons
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