September 23, 2023
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House approves funding for Highway 101 widening from Goleta to Ventura


A massive project to expand lanes on Highway 101 between Santa Barbara and Ventura received a slice of federal funding recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, after lobbying by Congressman Salud Carbajal.

Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, announced on July 21 that he had secured more than $16.6 million in federal money for projects in his district in the federal funding bills drafted and passed on July 20 by the House of Representatives. It now goes to the Senate for approval.

The funding for the projects in Carbajal’s district — which includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a small part of Ventura County — range from $500,000 to $7 million. The biggest one, at $7 million, will support construction of one of the two remaining sections of carpool lane expansion on Highway 101 between Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Salud Carbajal

In recent years, Caltrans has added carpool lanes in Carpinteria and the northern end of Ventura County. Once the project is complete, each direction of the highway will have three-lane traffic between Ventura and Goleta.

Construction of the remaining high-occupancy vehicle lanes is expected to start in March 2023 and be completed by summer 2026, according to Carbajal’s office.

“This leadership in Washington, D.C. couldn’t come at a better time,” Marjie Kirn, executive director of Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, said in a statement. “Federal support is critical for continuing to make progress in supporting our region’s number one transportation priority.”

The funding bills also provide money to support upgrades to public spaces in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria, according to Carbajal’s office.

Federal funding for the community projects isn’t a done deal yet; the bills still need approval from the Senate, plus the signature of President Joe Biden to become law in the upcoming fiscal year.

Other projects advanced to the Senate include: $2 million to fund the acquisition and retrofit of a new building at the library in Orcutt; $1.5 million to support the retrofitting of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s warehouse in Goleta; and $500,000 to support the construction of the Santa Maria Japanese Community Center in Santa Maria.

The bill also includes $500,000 to help water districts reliant on Lake Cachuma, a major water source in Santa Barbara County,  respond to the drought by supporting an emergency pumping facility project.