The U.S. 101 State Street Undercrossing (Undercrossing) has among the highest concentrations of serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in the City of Santa Barbara (City).The Vision Zero State Street Undercrossing Project (Project) connects the City’s two most active transportation-oriented neighborhoods: Downtown and the Waterfront. The project improves safety and appropriately rebalances space for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists through the undercrossing between Yanonali and Gutierrez Streets.
The Project will widen sidewalks on each side of the street from eight feet to 15 feet. On-street bike lanes will be increased from five to seven feet in width and will have a two- to three-foot protected buffer. The new roadway configuration includes one vehicle lane in each direction, a painted median for emergency access, and reconfigured turn lanes at both Yanonali and Gutierrez Streets. Additional enhancements include new pedestrian safety lighting and protective railings, reconstructed bridge columns to improve safety and aesthetics, new plantings in the upper planters, irrigation repairs, street tree removal and replacement, and modifications to the intersections at State and Gutierrez Streets and State and Yanonali Streets to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians.
In October 2023, construction will begin on the east side of the undercrossing starting from the middle of the undercrossing working towards the Yanonali and Gutierrez intersections. Access for vehicles and cyclists will be maintained in both directions during construction and the sidewalk on the west side of the undercrossing will remain open for pedestrian access. Work is restricted between 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Staff developed the Project through three community engagement processes: 1) the 2016 Bicycle Master Plan (BMP), 2) the Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP), and 3) the 2017 Undercrossing Revitalization process. The BMP included six workshops to understand community cycling concerns and needs. The BMP identified the need for safer biking facilities at the Undercrossing for improved access to community destinations, and the need to strengthen this critical connection between the City’s Downtown and Waterfront neighborhoods.
The PMP included public meetings held Downtown and resulted in a new policy stating that the City shall eliminate the U.S. 101 freeway as a barrier to pedestrian travel.
The Undercrossing Revitalization process included a public workshop near the Undercrossing, a design charrette, and noticed public meetings. This visioning process initially focused on beautification efforts to create a more pleasant pedestrian experience. However, significant mobility issues were raised at the public workshop, leading to this community-driven Project which was ultimately endorsed by Council.
In 2018, Council adopted the Vision Zero Strategy to eliminate traffic-related deaths or serious injuries in the City. Lower State Street is one of the priority corridors. With Council and community support, the City applied for and successfully obtained Active Transportation Program grant funding for the Project.
During the design phase, the Project went through many public hearings at various City boards and commissions, including the Historic Landmarks Commission, Streets Tree Advisory Committee, Parks and Recreation Commission, and Transportation Circulation Committee. The Project also went before the County Arts Commission to determine future areas within the Project that could accommodate art.
Community engagement will continue in the construction phase.
The Project is designed to accommodate future art installations on State Street between Guiterrez and Yanonali Streets with electrical conduit installed under the widened sidewalks and two areas with structural foundations to accommodate sculptures. Future art installations will require review and approval from the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission and potential review from Caltrans if the installations are within the structure of the Undercrossing.