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Santa Barbara’s Bike Blvd. Projects involve removing some mature trees

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Work begins in August on the creation of a multi-million dollar bike path along a section of Las Positas Road and Modoc Road.

Two other sites fall under the city's Bicycle Boulevard Gap Closure Project; one aims to improve bicycle safety on the Westside along Mission Street and San Pascual Street, the other centers on the Westside, mostly along Alisos Street.

"What we heard from the community is big safety concerns with cycling on Milpas and there's really not a good way to make Milpas a good, safe street for cycling," said Derrick Bailey, Supervising Transportation Engineer with the City of Santa Barbara. "So, one block over is Alisos Street and that's going to be the new bike route through the Eastside neighborhood."

Eastside (Alisos) Bike Project (City of SB/Public Works Dept.)

Bailey said that part of the project will include new school crosswalks to make good, safe connections with both Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School.

Westside construction will include a new bike path along 100 yards of Mission Street to San Pascual Street and, the expansion of existing sidewalks from six feet to 10. However, in order to do that along a narrow stretch, seven mature Jacaranda trees will be taken out -- five along Mission and two on San Pascual.

Rendering of bike path project slated for Mission Street and San Pascual Street. (City of Santa Barbara Public Works)

Bailey said he did not know how old the trees are. He added that removing trees is a "last resort."

A section of sidewalk on Mission Street will expand from 6' to 10.' (Credit: Beth Farnsworth)

"We are disappointed that we do have to remove and replace these mature Jacaranda trees," Bailey said. "We're gonna be moving the curb line out and re-establishing the parkway so that all of the trees will be replaced in kind. In addition to the trees that are gonna be removed and replaced on Mission Street, we found about 40 other planting locations along the project limit so, at the end of the day, there will be a lot more trees."

Derrick Bailey, Supervising Transportation Engineer for City of Santa Barbara (Credit: Beth Farnsworth)

City officials said many residents have expressed disappointment when they see the "tree removal" signs posted on trees along a section of Mission Street.

Removing parking spaces is another major concern.

"There's a lot of things wrong with this thing," said Mary, who lives off Mission Street. "I'm curious as to where they think all these cars are going to park now because they're running over into the other streets and they're soon to be out of spaces so, that's my beef!"

Mary also said she and other nearby residents were not well notified of the project.

"I don't think that there was enough notification of this whole thing going or the proper notification of this whole thing happening."

Bailey said about one parking spot on San Pascual Street will be eliminated.

"No parking removal on Alisos, or along Las Positas/Modoc."

Las Positas/Modoc Multi Use Path (City of SB/Public Works Dept.)

Bailey said the community voiced concerns that parking is very valuable so the city planned routes along lower traffic volume streets.

The creation of the Las Positas and Modoc Roads Multiuse Path is a Vision Zero project and will require more extensive construction. Eventually, it will create a safe separation of bikes, runners, pedestrians from higher speed vehicle traffic.

The city's web page explained: "The Path is a transformative project that will connect the Waterfront, schools, parks, and commercial centers with the community along the Pacific Coastal and Crosstown Bike Routes."

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Las Positas/Modoc project is slated for late July.

Construction on the Mission Street and Alisos Street bike paths is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022.

In addition to the city projects, the county has a project that will connect the end of the city's path to the Oberon Trails.

"All of these projects are linking together to make really high quality, safe biking routes all the way out to UCSB ... and to Ventura."

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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