Have you been out for a bit of shopping at the new Enos Ranch Development? Exciting!
Or exasperating, depending on your perspective, and whether you went shopping when traffic was hectic.
It’s safe to say most new developments have a few oddities, something unique to challenge your imagination and navigational skills. Planners apparently like to throw in those little twists and turns, just to keep us on our toes.
But for many shoppers, a visit to Enos Ranch during serious shopping hours mostly involves keeping your eyes on the road, and your foot ready to slam on the brakes.
The traffic congestion problems have not been lost on shoppers, one of whom wrote a letter to the editor earlier this month, making the following observations:
“Whoever conceived the traffic flow around the Enos Rancho project needs to go back to traffic flow 101. … vehicles entering and exiting Costco make a good road block. Recently, traffic turning left into Costco had the whole south-bound lane backed up to Battles Road. This closed down the left lane to the signal at the entrance to Costco. …”
It can be a little confusing, but you get the picture — especially if you’ve been out there. The parking and entrance areas too often resemble the final few laps of a NASCAR race.
That letter provoked a quick response in the form of a letter to the editor from Santa Maria Public Works Director Steven Kahn, the gist of which was, help is on the way.
Kahn said the city is working with Costco, the development’s anchor store, on traffic solutions, including the installation of stop signs in and around the Costco parking area. That should help resolve some of the problem, which was that without signage every driver was out for himself or herself.
Another change on the horizon will be the opening later this month of College Drive, and the city’s collaboration with Caltrans on improvements to add a right-turn lane to the Highway 101 south-bound offramp, increase the length of the Bradley Road turn pocket off Betteravia Road, and increase the length of the turn pockets for the Highway 101 northbound on ramp.
That makes it sound a lot more confusing than it actually will be. What these changes should do — coupled with the opening of College Drive — is clarify what had been a badly muddled traffic pattern for Enos Ranch visitors.
In fact, the Enos Ranch traffic scheme is a work in progress, because the shopping development is not fully fleshed out. That won’t happen until all the stores and shops are open for business, which city officials say will happen sometime next year.
The key word we would choose to describe what's called for is — patience. The Enos Ranch Development is a big deal for this region, for a number of reasons, and big deals usually take some getting used to by customers, and a good deal of planning and hard work by developers, which in this case includes retailers, the city and Caltrans.
In other words, a lot of moving parts.
And you have to take into consideration that the development has only been open since September, and traffic issues were apparent from the very start.
The opening of a redesigned College Drive will help. In fact, when this project is completed next year, it will be a good place for motorists and pedestrians. The time table seems to indicate mid-summer as a completion target.
In the meantime, drive carefully, which is a solid recommendation no matter where you are going.