Road closures, excited shoppers and ongoing construction are adding to concerns about traffic congestion and circulation in and around the growing Enos Ranch Development, but traffic officials say some relief is in sight.
To help, Santa Maria Public Works Department leaders have created a new traffic pattern around a popular Enos Ranch retailer and are working on improving some area turn lanes. Work is also wrapping up on College Drive and will open very soon, which will relieve some of the area's congestion.
“Yes, it is a little bit difficult now, but it will get better,” Santa Maria’s Public Works Department Director Steve Kahn said.
Traffic growing pains were expected with a development like Enos Ranch, Kahn said, especially when it called for redirecting some roads and causing the expansion of others, along with creating brand-new thoroughfares.
The Santa Maria Public Works Department is working on the issue now, but some of its solutions won’t be ready until after construction on the main portions of Enos Ranch are complete next year.
Costco congestion solutions
Since it opened in September, the entrance to Costco has been the center of congestion on Bradley Road.
After monitoring how drivers behave around the Costco entrance and parking lot, public works leaders determined that confusion about right of ways in the parking lot have worked to contribute to congestion in the area.
Santa Maria civil engineers suggested adding stop signs and lane markings to guide motorists and make the traffic pattern more efficient.
“It will no longer be a question of who has the right of way and who has the ability to move,” Santa Maria Civil Engineer Hallie Holden said.
Costco officials told city leaders stop signs would be installed today.
“We will continue to work with Costco and monitor the area to make improvements wherever needed,” Kahn said.
City leaders also want to remind drivers that there are three entrances to the Costco parking lot.
“It may be more effective to drive through the intersection and take the northern entrance,” Holden said.
College Drive set to reopen
City leaders are poised to reopen College Drive, Kahn said, which will help reduce some congestion in the area.
“We have a lot of people that want to go north and south in Santa Maria and they are using Bradley Road,” he said.
To accompany the Enos Ranch project, the city completely rebuilt College Drive. When complete, it will double in size -- adding more travel lanes -- and will have sidewalks and other features.
Kahn said College Drive will open by the end of the month.
City and state team up for interchange improvements
The city also has also been working with Caltrans to make improvements to the Highway 101 and Betteravia Road interchange.
Soon crews will begin extending turning lanes, redirecting other traffic lanes and working on making the lanes more visible by removing some obstructions in the area.
“We are extending the turn pockets through the interchange so cars can stack more,” Kahn said.
He added that permits for the planned projects have been submitted and that all of the traffic improvement projects will wrap up around next summer.
“What we are always trying to do in the world of traffic engineering is define to the motorist where you go; big open areas with a lot of decisions are bad. We want to guide motorists,” Kahn said.