Truce Declared over Modoc Road Bike Path in Santa Barbara

Fewer trees to be felled, path to invade less land preservation, and environmentally sensitive paving material to be used

Modoc Preserve along Modoc Road

The lawsuit over the fate of the Modoc Road Multi-Use Path — better known as a bike lane — appears to be mostly settled, with the design of the controversial bikeway about 35 percent complete.

As part of the settlement agreement, plans for the bikeway — which would bridge a large gap in the South Coast bike path network between downtown Santa Barbara and UCSB — have been changed since they were unveiled for the first time to minimize the number of canary palms and eucalyptus. trees along Modoc Road slated for destruction. Additionally, county engineers agreed to build the new road as close to the existing paved infrastructure as possible to avoid encroaching on a land reserve that had originally been secured to prevent any development at the site in perpetuity. County engineers also agreed that they would not use “hot mix concrete” in the construction of the road, but would instead use a more environmentally sensitive paving material suggested by opponents of the road.

When word of the proposed bikeway first surfaced, many neighbors responded with alarm at the suddenness of the announcement and the large number of trees – especially the iconic Canarian palms that line the road – planned for the removal Additionally, critics objected that the meandering route originally proposed for portions of the land preserve violated the no-development restriction imposed on the land easement. This issue remains unresolved with the Land Trust of Santa Barbara still negotiating with County Public Works officials for permission to invade.

Last week, County Supervisor Laura Capps convened a public workshop to discuss the trail — for which Santa Barbara County secured a $5.4 million state grant. The county maintains 1,600 miles of roads, Capps noted, but now needs to fill what he called “the missing gap” in the South Coast regional bike network. Once the trail is completed, Capps said, cyclists will be able to ride segregated routes from downtown Santa Barbara to Goleta and to Isla Vista and back. Trails like this, he added, are one way the county can address climate change.

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