State Street underpass

Before 1991 there were four traffic lights in a row stopping traffic on the 101 freeway. It was the only way cross traffic could get across the freeway. There were actually signs telling cross traffic the wait could be as long as 5 minutes, and they suggested you turn off your engine while you wait.

Santa Barbara tried for a long time to remedy this situation but special interest groups wanted something aesthetic whereas the city of Santa Barbara wanted something affordable. The city eventually compromised by placing large signs on the freeway that said "SIGNAL AHEAD" with flashing yellow lights so as to warn motorists and lessen the number of accidents which continually occurred at this spot as a result of the traffic lights and cross traffic.

In 1990 construction finally began to build underpasses for State Street and Garden Street. The four traffic lights were finally removed as the State Street underpass was completed in 1991. The last traffic light to be removed was placed in the Santa Barbara Museum of History.

Unfortunately the underpass didn't help traffic on the freeway because at that point the 6 lane freeway narrows to a 4 lane freeway all the way to Carpinteria. During rush hour traffic can back up all the way to Carrillo. It can take a very long time to creep along through where the four traffic lights used to be, especially on weekends and holidays. (Hint: Take the side roads. No one ever thinks of this. The view is much better than what you get from the freeway, and you can wave at the vehicles jammed on the freeway as you drive by. See How to get from Goleta to Carpinteria bypassing the 101 freeway)

Santa Barbara has tried for a long time to remedy this situation but special interest groups don't want that stretch of the freeway widened to 6 lanes because they would have to cut down some trees which would in their opinion ruin the view. Personally I don't think the view is all that great to begin with. And traffic jams are not pretty. Why not widen the freeway and plant new trees and landscape the area? I don't know. Just remember as you sit in traffic to appreciate the special interest groups who made it all possible.

State Street underpass Here we see the opening ceremony for the underpass. The mayor made a speech which only a select few who were close enough could hear. Then these fancy cars you see on the other side of the underpass did the shortest parade ever. They drove from one side of the underpass to the other, and that was it.