SBBIKE Member Art Ludwig at the underpass with daughter Maya in tow, 1994
If you bike in Santa Barbara, chances are you’ve navigated the murky Castillo Underpass at some point. Watery conditions make the underpass an uncomfortable and dangerous place to ride a bike. Issues related to drainage (or lack of) are documented as far back as the 90's and as recently as 2017 when SBBIKE’s newest Board Member covered the topic.
SBBIKE announces with mixed feelings that the infamous underpass will undergo minor re-construction beginning next week. The good news: this is a major advocacy success that will be a long-term solution to a serious safety issue. Less than a year ago, SBBIKE led the charge asking Caltrans to address conditions at the underpass after we received reports of a major rise in bicycle crashes at the site (bicycle crashes doubled over the course of 2016). The challenge: the underpass will be closed from June 19th through August.
SBBIKE Member Art Ludwig at same underpass with daughter Maya, 2016
In August 2016, SBBIKE members asked Caltrans to fix the underpass and shared personal stories of crashes or near misses in the underpass. Caltrans responded offering a range of temporary solutions (increased scrubbing of the algae, signage discouraging biking) while assuring SBBIKE that they would consider a long-term solution (such as reconstruction).
Reconstructing the surface of the underpass is a serious capital project ($1.5 million). It required serious advocating from SBBIKE together with then Assemblymember Das Williams, later Assemblymember Monique Limón, SBCAG and the City of Santa Barbara to finally convince Caltrans that this investment was not only necessary but essential to ensure the safety of bicyclists in Santa Barbara.
Thank you to all of the SBBIKE members who shared their stories. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to convey the urgency at this site. You can rest assured that because of your input and SBBIKE’s leadership advocating for a long-term fix, future bicycle crashes have been prevented.
Readers, please note that the next few months will be a serious travel inconvenience as this key connection will remain closed from June 19th to late August. That means closed to people biking, walking, driving and MTD’s buses (which will undergo rerouting). However, if all goes as planned, Caltrans’ project will finally stop the underpass issues and make Santa Barbara an even better place to ride a bike. In the meantime, we will advocate that the street is open to people on foot and bike as soon as possible!
Bear with us!,
SBBIKE Advocacy Coordinator
Confusing advice from Caltrans. Note the lack of curb cuts to access sidewalk.
Alternatives while Castillo is closed from June to August.