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Santa Barbara proposes plan to create multi-million dollar bridge over highway 101 to connect lower Eastside neighborhood to the Coast

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Community members at Tuesday’s city council meeting advocated for a multi-million dollar bridge that would help create greater mobility and accessibility for Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside— a historically disadvantaged community. 
“ We certainly endorse bridging the divide. Across the nation we see highways dividing communities. And the lower Eastside is a prime example of that. There are probably children in the lower Eastside who may perhaps have never walked by the bird refuge and this could allow that,” said Barry Remis from Move Santa Barbara County.  

The bridge would connect the lower Eastside community to Dwight Murphy Field and several other hotspots near Santa Barbara’s waterfront area including the zoo and Gwendolyn’s Playground. 
“It's kind of annoying knowing the beach is like right there sometimes, you know? But you have to go like so far to get to it like a mile and half that way or that way. So it'd be really cool to have access point so close,” said Ondine Izuno, who lives in the lower Eastside.
The biggest hurdle will be getting $32.5 million dollars to fund this project, but proponents of the plan say the rewards will transform Santa Barbara for the better. 
“It has been proven through high quality healthcare research that walkability in a community reduces traffic accidents, obesity, asthma, and heart disease. And those are components of the Santa Barbara General Plan,” said Kathleen Rodriguez, who lives in Santa Barbara.  

Though some community members say this bridge would greatly enhance the quality of their life here, others say that $32.5 million dollar investment would be best spent on more pressing needs for this community.
“The neighborhood is is contaminated with bedbugs and the landlords aren't doing anything about it. That's a pretty big thing… I think that our community could use any and all funds possible towards more housing opportunities for low income community members,” said Dallas Dalton, who has lived in Santa Barbara’s lower Eastside for the last 4 years.
City council members and planners discussed their options at Tuesday's city council meeting.
If built this bridge  would be the fourth pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the city.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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