Caltrans announces completion of Santa Maria River bridge widenings

Caltrans has announced the completion of a $34.8 million bridge project to widen a section of Highway 101 across the Santa Maria River.

“These wider bridges will help ease traffic congestion and improve bicycle safety on the Central Coast,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a news release Friday.

The project added a third lane in each direction on the bridges, a new bicycle lane and upgraded on and off ramps. An estimated 60,000 drivers use the bridge each day.

Funding came mainly from the Proposition 1B state bond, with an additional $7.8 million from the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and $2.5 million from the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments. The overall cost of the project was $47 million, including “support costs” such as environmental work and design, Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said.

Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and other elected officials attended Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This project is a win-win that has been a long time coming for residents in both counties,” Capps said in a statement. “The widening will benefit cyclists and drivers alike, making everyone’s commutes safer and smoother.”