Buellton considers Hwy. 246 improvements

2011-08-25T00:15:00Z Buellton considers Hwy. 246 improvementsBy Julian J. Ramos/Staff Writer jramos@santamariatimes.com Santa Maria Times

An $800,000 contract to improve traffic safety and circulation and improve the “streetscape” of Highway 246 in downtown Buellton is up for City Council approval tonight.

The three-block-long project along the state highway from Avenue of Flags west to Palm Way will create raised, landscaped medians, improve sidewalks, and add handicapped-accessible ramps and crosswalks with block pavers at intersections.

Benches, street lighting, landscape and irrigation improvements will also be installed. 

The improvements are meant to help traffic circulation between the highway and smaller local roads and alleys while reducing the accident rate when vehicles turn, according to City Engineer Rose Hess.

The project also tackles pedestrian improvements, particularly in the downtown area, by improving pedestrian visibility and increasing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, she said.

G. Sosa Construction was the lowest bidder among seven firms for the contract.

The city requested two bid alternatives taking into account different types of antique decorative pedestrian lamp and pole lighting — the  existing high-pressure sodium lamps on the Avenue of Flags and in front of Andersen’s Pea Soup restaurant along Highway 246 or induction lighting. A sample induction light has been installed in front of Andersen’s.

Sosa estimated $805,683 and $808,483, respectively, for the options.

Funding for the project includes $495,495 in sales tax revenue from the countywide Measure A; about $132,000 left from Measure A’s predecessor, Measure D; and $200,000 in city gas tax revenue.

Staff is recommending  the construction contract be awarded to Sosa  with the lighting alternative to be decided by council members.

The council is also being asked to approve a Measure A agreement with the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) and a Caltrans maintenance agreement for the project.

The streetscape plan is the first of the municipal circulation improvements listed under the Measure A regional program; all 

regional program projects are required to be coordinated with SBCAG to ensure timely use of funds and project delivery, Hess said. 

The agreement describes a reimbursement plan in which 61.5 percent of the project construction costs will be reimbursed to the city, approximately $500,000.

Because Highway 246 is a state highway, Caltrans has jurisdiction. As a stipulation of the encroachment permit from Caltrans to allow  work on the highway, the city must enter into a maintenance agreement. Landscaping and all decorative features — pavers, pedestrian lights, trees and benches — will be maintained by the city.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 140 W. Highway 246.

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