By Raiza Giorgi

Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians hosted a virtual Traffic Circulation and Safety community meeting on May 19, to discuss potential improvements to key traffic corridors in Santa Ynez Valley.

The meeting culminated an 18-month traffic circulation and safety study for a triangle bordered by Highways 246, 154 and 101.

“We worked with valley residents and staff to guide the process, with a bus tour, community meetings and worked to get those put together,” said Michael Becker, director of planning for SBCAG. 

The concerns stem from congestion in Solvang, and areas of speed like Highway 246 in Buellton, where just after three months of a new crosswalk and flashing lights a woman and her dog were hit, pointed out Buellton Mayor Holly Sierra. 

“Buellton is a very unique circumstances as getting across town is difficults and crossing Highway 246 is dangerous. We are very concerned of this continual problem in our community and looking forward to seeing the results of this study,” Sierra said. 

Deepak Kaushik of Iteris, Inc. prepared the study that gave many options from roundabouts, traffic signals, stop signs and speed signals in the four areas of the valley identified. 

“We used traffic analysis and scoring them with using traditional traffic tools, and safety considerations from collision data from Caltrans and extensive community outreach to compile this plan,” Kaushik said. 

In Los Olivos the recommendations were including a multimodal trail along Highway 154 for pedestrian and bicycles, along with either roundabouts and the roundabouts or traffic signals at Foxen Canyon, and Grand Ave on Highway 154. 

In Santa Ynez there could be speed signals along Highway 154 between Roblar and the Highway 246 roundabout, along with a multimodal trail along Highway 246 from Refugio to Santa Ynez and either a traffic signal or signaled crossing from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School to El Rancho Market, as a lot of pedestrians illegally cross there. 

IN Solvang several options from curb extentions, pedestrian scrambles, and removal of on-street parking was presented. 

Costs for all the options range from $6.5 – $7.5 million for roundabouts; multimodal trails around $5 million; $350,000 – $450,000 for traffic signals; pedestrian crossings and all-way stops for $50,000 – $100,000. 

Roundabouts are a controversial subject in the valley as many people who spoke at the community meeting several months ago said they are costly and ineffective as there have been several accidents and near-collisions reported. People asked during public comment in the meeting for a four-way stop with flashing lights at Roblar. 

“Something needs to be done there, it has been repeated a lot through this process,” Becker said. 

View the meeting on-demand at or at within two days after the May 19 meeting. You can also view the presentation at SYVTS_Virtual Meeting Presentation_05-19-20