State OKs $6.1M request for Highway 101 interchange

A request for $6.1 million in state funds to build an interchange at Highway 101 to connect with the future Union Valley Parkway now has an OK from the California Transportation Commission. 

The decision was announced Monday by Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray.  “Caltrans can now advertise for construction bids,” Gray said in a statement. “A contract is expected to be awarded in August, and construction should start by the end of summer.”  Construction on the interchange is expected to be completed in December 2013.

Plans for the Union Valley Parkway project and accompanying interchange have been in process since the 1960s, and work on the road project — a joint venture of the county and the city of Santa Maria — began in 1997.

In April, the county paved the way for eminent domain proceedings against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on three parcels that comprise 70 percent of the right of way necessary to finish the road project, which would provide a key roadway link from Highway 101 to South Blosser Road near the Santa Maria Regional Airport when complete.  The county is responsible for obtaining the right of way for the final leg of the project, and the city of Santa Maria will handle the road construction.

Based on 2005 traffic counts, the new Highway 101 interchange would see 10,000 vehicles a day once it’s opened, according to the county, and the UVP corridor is expected to carry between 16,000 and 19,000 vehicles a day between Highway 135 and Highway 101.

The state transportation commission approved the county Association of Government’s request for the $6.1 million on Thursday. The money comes from Proposition 1B funds and will be matched by $6.1 million in local Measure A sales tax money.  The measure was overwhelmingly approved by county voters in 2008 and authorized continuation of a half-cent sales tax for transportation infrastructure improvements in the county.

The interchange project includes construction of a bridge over Highway 101 at the east end of Union Valley Parkway, with on and off ramps connecting the road to the freeway both north and southbound.

Access to Orcutt is now provided by two freeway interchanges at Clark Avenue and Santa Maria Way.

Chris Hastert, general manager at Santa Maria Airport, said in a statement that access to Highway 101 will be another tool to attract business to the area as the Santa Maria Public Airport District moves forward with a future business park.

Staff report, Santa Maria Times | Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

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