In fits and starts, the inevitable widening of Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara is proceeding at a steady pace.
The latest sign of progress on the project is the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments’ approval for building HOV lanes in the Linden Avenue to Casitas Pass Road portion of the project. It came in the form of approval for that phase of the project’s environmental impact statement.
This is a project whose funding also appears to be coming together. In addition to some $140 million in Measure A sales tax funds and other state monies, the project has gained priority status in seeking additional funding from the Trump administration.
We’ve heard the arguments that widening the highway will only be a temporary patch until traffic catches up to the wider highway. We recognize that better road access will encourage and not discourage more commuting between less expensive housing markets such as Ventura and Oxnard and Santa Barbara.
And we’re frustrated, like many of our elected and civic leaders, that a viable commuter train schedule can’t be developed between Ventura County and South Coast destinations.
But, as we’ve argued for more than a decade, the widening of Highway 101 with car pool lane access during busy times is an essential baseline for the regular flow of commerce between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Among other things, it does create a much better way to move emergency vehicles up and down the Highway 101 corridor. And it provides relief for all of California when Highway 5 is closed through the Grapevine and access between Los Angeles and the Central Valley is curtailed.
These are not easy moves but they show the commitment of SBCAG to doing the right thing for commerce in our region and our state.
VENTURA COUNTY GETS FUNDING
Meanwhile, in Ventura County, there has been a bit of progress on the transportation front. The Southern California Association of Governments has approved 25 projects, including two in Ventura County totaling nearly $2.4 million.
They include a program to provide safer bike and pedestrian access to parks and other community assets surrounding Montalvo Elementary School in Ventura. Also getting funding are sidewalks and bike lanes for an Etting Road project in Oxnard. Much, much more is needed — which is why we think the best long-term fix is a dedicated sales tax revenue stream for transportation in Ventura County.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MENTIUM
When the Business Times launched the Central Coast Innovation Awards last year, we invited top student and community entrepreneurs to participate in our Startup Village. From that group of 30 companies we asked our 300 attendees to vote for a “Startup Village Superstar” winner.
Our program on the evening of March 16 at the Bacara Resort & Spa gave the startups a chance to meet funders, experts and other founders. And we’re pleased to recognize advanced silicon chip firm Mentium, a UC Santa Barbara spinout company, was named the 2017 Startup Village Superstar. Congratulations to CEO Mirko Prezioso and Chief Technology Officer Farood Merrikh Bayat.