Milpas Street is a busy arterial street in the Eastside neighborhood with five lanes of traffic carrying over 23,000 vehicles per day. Milpas ranks #2 in the City for the highest number of pedestrian-involved collisions. As a result, City Council designated Milpas as a Vision Zero Priority Corridor.
In 2016, the community advocated for a bicycle boulevard parallel to Milpas along Alisos Street for neighborhood cycling mobility. In 2019, the City returned to the Eastside to receive feedback on the walking experience on Milpas. In 2019 and 2020, the City worked with the community to develop a project scope to addresses concerns.
The City applied for an ATP Cycle 6 grant for the Milpas Street Crosswalk Safety and Sidewalk Widening Project (Project) in 2022 and was successful, with nearly $8 million awarded to the City for final design and construction.
Design and environmental review commences in 2023 with construction anticipated to begin in 2027.
The Project includes the following safety enhancements: new curb extensions, high visibility crosswalks, additional lighting, accessibility improvements, widened sidewalks at street corners and transit stops, leading pedestrian intervals at signalized intersections, mast arm mounted Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons, and a median refuge island at one non-signalized intersection. Three-foot-wide buffers will be added to the existing bike lanes between Cota and Canon Perdido Streets to improve cyclist safety, and additional bicycle parking on Milpas Street will improve cyclist access.
The most recent public meetings were held online on February 16, 2022 and in person at the Franklin Community Center on February 19, 2022. If you’d like to learn more about the project, view the Milpas Street Corridor Planning Effort Webinar Recording here.
City staff plan to share project updates at additional public meetings in 2023 and 2024.
It is an important project goal to retain as many of the existing street trees along Milpas Street as possible. The trees provide character, shade, and have many environmental benefits to the City’s urban forest in reducing the heat island effect, sequestering carbon, reducing pollution, and capturing and storing storm water.
The project aims to improve pedestrian safety and ADA access along the Milpas corridor while minimizing impacts on Santa Barbara’s urban forest. Working closely with the City’s Forestry Division, trees will be individually assessed and removed only if it is determined that pedestrian safety and ADA access cannot otherwise be accomplished. New trees will be planted along Milpas to help offset the loss of the larger trees, with particular attention given to selecting species that will provide shade, diversity, and compatibility with infrastructure. The existing Laurel Fig Trees will continue to receive regular care to ensure their long-term health.
The project team will return to the community once the tree assessment and accessibility assessment has been completed.
The most recent public meetings took place on October 4, 2023, and October 18, 2023, to review the project scope from the recently awarded Active Transportation Grant. View the webinar recording here.
City staff will return to the community in early 2024 with a project design update.