By Casey Geier

Contributing Writer

More than 50 people recently took a bus tour of Santa Ynez Valley highways to help identify problems and suggest solutions in a preliminary phase of an official Santa Ynez Valley Traffic Circulation and Safety Study.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), in partnership with Caltrans and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, is conducting the study to identify traffic circulation and safety improvements for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and other valley residents.

“Having the community come out and give us their feedback on each location is instrumental on guiding how this study will go into the future and identifying what the priorities are for the community,” said SBCAG Executive Director Marjie Kirn.

The tour on Feb. 19 gave participants the opportunity to focus on 12 designated areas on Highway 246 and Highway 154.

Seven on Highway 246 were at Sycamore Drive in western Buellton, at the Albertsons parking lot, at Alisal Road, Alamo Pintado Road, Refugio Road, and Edison Road, and at the roundabout at Highway154.

On Highway 154, in addition to the roundabout, the five locations were at Armour Ranch Road, a driveway to Camp 4, Baseline and Edison roads, Roblar Road, and Grand Avenue in Los Olivos.


Participants, including local business owners, government officials, and members of the Santa Ynez, Solvang, Buellton and Los Olivos chambers of commerce, made notes along the two-hour tour. Then they returned to Hotel Corque for a hosted lunch with a discussion about the problem areas they observed and possible solutions.

The main changes that members of the tour voiced on the tour included adding bike lanes in Santa Ynez and Solvang, adding landscape medians in Buellton, adding a closer crosswalk between El Rancho Market and Santa Ynez Valley High School, improving sign visibility, and possibly adding roundabouts in several locations.

The study is funded by a Caltrans grant of $300,000 and another $25,000 each from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and SBCAG

“We want to make sure that we are applying standards in a way that serves the community in the best manner,” said Aileen K. Loe, Deputy District Director of Planning and Local Assistance at Caltrans.

“We’re a big part of this community, we’re not just a business owner,” said Chumash Tribal Chairman Kenneth Khan. “Our residents live on and off the reservation, so the traffic issues are very real for all of us.”

SBCAG administers local, state and federal transportation funding for Santa Barbara County and its incorporated cities.

The community feedback from the bus tour is the first of three steps in a process that is being led by Iteris, a Santa Ana-based consulting firm that bills itself as a “leader in applied informatics for transportation and agriculture.”

The next two steps will include collecting traffic data now that Highway 154 has reopened and then forming results from the analysis. These findings will be presented to the public in two upcoming workshops.

As the process continues, SBCAG officials said, they will post all the relevant documents in draft form and issue press releases to announce opportunities for public comment.

For more information, go to, email, or call 805-961-8900.