Traffic Signal to be Installed on Pardall Road
In an effort to improve safety in Isla Vista (IV), the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Works is installing a four-way traffic signal at the intersection of Pardall Road and Embarcadero Del Norte. The signal will include a mast arm visible to bikers so they will be able to see the signal before arriving at the intersection. Cyclists and pedestrians will see how many seconds they have until the green light cycle ends and will be able to adjust their speeds well in advance of entering the intersection. Law enforcement will enforce traffic at the intersection in a way that places a value of public safety over increased citations. The traffic signal poles will be painted green to match the other street fixtures in IV and the signal cabinet will be painted by a local artist like those on El Colegio. The $300,000 cost for the signal will be paid for by an infrastructure improvement agreement split between UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County Public Works Department. Construction on the signal began in August and will be ready for operations by mid-September.
Possible solutions to improving the safety and traffic flow at this intersection were first seriously discussed in 2006-2007 during the IV Master Plan process. Various traffic solutions were explored over the years and through many public input meetings with student leaders, IV merchants and business owners, and IV residents. As a result of those meetings, the County proposed the idea of installing a traffic signal. Public Works Director Scott McGolpin said, "The Pardall Road and Embarcadero Del Mar intersection is unique because of the high volume of traffic and the fact that the intersection is currently a two-way stop. Pardall Road is the main artery between UCSB and IV and we have seen a disproportionately high number of collisions at this intersection. The installation of this traffic light will increase safety for residents and visitors to the area by communicating to all cyclists, pedestrians, and automobile drivers when it is their turn to travel through the intersection."
California Highway Patrol Captain Cindy Pontes said, "During the first two weeks that school is back in session, CHP would like to allow people an opportunity to become familiar with the new traffic lights. Officers will be encouraged to provide a warning in lieu of a citation during the first two weeks of school. However, officers still have the ability to issue citations for any violation they deem appropriate during that timeframe." Public safety officers would like to remind the public that cyclists on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations per the California Vehicle Code.
Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann acknowledged that the installation of a traffic light in Isla Vista is going to be a major cultural change for IV and that making safety improvements at the intersection are long overdue. "I take public safety in IV very seriously. This intersection has been studied by our traffic engineers and it has the highest number of reported collisions in IV, while I know it will take some getting used to, I'm confident that the residents of IV will welcome a safer intersection and I think it will vastly improve safety especially for bicyclists."
More information can be found on the project's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PardallSignal. Anyone with questions about the signal operations can call the County's Traffic Engineer at (805)568-3308. For a comprehensive list of questions and answers about this project and information on other Santa Barbara County Public Works Transportation Projects, visit www.pwsb.net.