Crosswalk at CMS

Middle school students cross Palm Avenue on Carpinteria Avenue, the site of a proposed new traffic signal.

Debbie Talarico, engineer for the city of Carpinteria, led a presentation in the Carpinteria Middle School Auditorium on Wednesday, Aug. 28, updating community members on the city’s efforts to secure grant funding to augment the expense of installing traffic control measures at three locations around town to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The three areas of focus—Holly and Sawyer avenues, the Carpinteria High School crossing and the crossing at Palm and Carpinteria avenues—have been ranked by the city based on the number of pedestrian and vehicle collisions in recent years, with Palm and Carpinteria avenues having by far the highest number at 14 documented vehicle/pedestrian collisions (eight pedestrians and six bicyclists hit). The crossing is busiest at the start and finish of the CMS school day.  

Grant money from Measure A, funded by Santa Barbara County sales taxes, is administered by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) and awarded to communities based on a competitive points system. Measure A funds are to be used for: local street improvements such as pothole repairs and synchronized traffic signals; increasing senior and disabled accessibility to public transit; building safer walking and bike routes to schools; and providing increased opportunities for carpool and vanpool programs.

The city has contracted with a traffic engineering expert to study the three sites and determine warranted traffic improvements. Potential upgrades to safety infrastructure include a traffic signal on Carpinteria Avenue at Palm to be synchronized with the signal at Casitas Pass Road, and “bulb-out” curb extensions at Holly and Sawyer, as well as on Foothill Road at Carpinteria High, where additional signage is also proposed. “Bulb-out” curb extensions are proven to make drivers slow down.  

At Carpinteria High School, Principal Gerardo Cornejo often stands at the crosswalk before school to watch over students as they cross Foothill Road. Students “literally have to stand behind a telephone pole,” Cornejo said, explaining the dangerous crossing at his school and the fact that drivers cannot see pedestrians waiting to cross.

“Another benefit,” added First District Supervisor Das Williams, “would be to reduce the speeding on Foothill.”

The projects are in early planning stages, and Talarico reports that the grant applications to be submitted via the county’s Measure A grant program are ready, well ahead of the “Cycle Five” grant cycle deadline.

Additional information will be published in the city of Carpinteria’s newsletter, and a survey will be available online for community members to give input on the proposed site improvements.

The Scoring Committee determining grant awardees will be comprised of one representative each from the cities of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Goleta and the county of Santa Barbara; the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition; COAST; the Parent Teachers’ Association; Santa Barbara MTD; Caltrans; Traffic Solutions; and the County Office of Education.

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