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Pedestrian safety improvements underway in Santa Barbara

Pedestrian safety improvements are underway at a busy intersection in downtown Santa Barbara.

The corner of De La Vina and Figueroa streets has been the scene of many accidents and the City of Santa Barbara is tackling the issue to make it safer for pedestrians.

Jane Brunet crosses the De La Vina and Figueroa intersection at least once a day when she walks downtown to run some errands.

She said she has to be cautious before crossing the street because some people don’t stop to let her pass.

“They don’t care about people even if they’re using canes,” said Brunet.

The intersection is a high-traffic area for both vehicles and walkers. Speed down the one-way street can be a problem as well.

“Make sure that they’re going to stop because they go so fast, like 40-50 mph, you know. You can’t beat them,” said George Solinas after he crossed the street using a walker.

“A lot of people are just speeding down this thing. They don’t really look out for people,” said Kawika Kong.

In 2009, a man crossing the street was hit by a bus and died.

“And it was just really tragic because it was an accident waiting to happen,” said Laszlo Hodosy, who worked on the same block.

The new improvements include access ramps and curb extensions to make pedestrians more visible to drivers as well as shortening the distance to get across the street.

“Secondary benefits would be the lighting and the landscaping. Making the intersection look nicer,” explained Adam Hendel, the supervising engineer.

The project is being funded by a $325,000 federal Highway Safety Improvement Project grant.

The work will be completed in phases to minimize traffic delays. If all goes as planned, the project should be completed in July.

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