Latest Lower Mission Creek Project Phase Construction Completed

Reaches 2B-2 and 3 from Gutierrez Street. Credit: County of Santa Barbara Public Works. title=
Reaches 2B-2 and 3 from Gutierrez Street. Credit: County of Santa Barbara Public Works.
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

In March, the Lower Mission Creek Flood Control Project (Project) reached another milestone when contractors completed work on two sections. This joint Project between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, and the City of Santa Barbara (City) has been under study and development since the 1960s. This Project addresses flood control concerns and environmental issues by widening the creek to increase flood flow capacity, reducing flooding and property damage. The $5.5 million Project located between Chapala and De La Vina Streets at Reaches 2B-2 (under Highway 101) and Reach 3 (between Highway 101 and Gutierrez Street) was funded by the County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. Granite Construction was the contractor on the Project. 

The highlight of this Project's current phase was the construction of a bypass culvert underneath the freeway. Because it was not feasible to widen the creek that bends around the train station under the freeway, an additional channel was built to increase flood flow capacity. The natural water flow will continue through the historic Mission Creek - which serves as a passage for rainbow and steelhead trout - and the bypass channel will only be used when water flow reaches a certain peak volume. The overall Project is designed to increase capacity for a twenty-year storm event.

County First District Supervisor Das Williams said, “I, along with many residents, have been excitedly waiting for the Lower Mission Project to near completion, first as a Santa Barbara City Councilmember back in 2008 when the City and Flood Control District received the Coastal Development Permit to start construction on this Project and now as County Supervisor representing most of the area that will benefit from the project. The Lower Mission Creek Flood Control Project is vital to the public safety and environmental protection of Santa Barbara. It’s a great achievement every time we finish construction on another reach, and I’m looking forward to championing the completion of future phases.”

City Principal Engineer, Adam Hendel emphasized the multi-agency effort that went into the Project's completion and also the patience of City residents. "The opening of the bypass culvert is a culmination of much effort and engagement within the community. The City of Santa Barbara Public Works Department would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the County Flood Control District for staying focused on this Project and the Santa Barbara residents for their understanding of construction related impacts."

Other completed Lower Mission Creek Flood Control Projects include replacement of the following bridges- Haley Street (2012), Ortega Street (2012), Chapala Street (2014), Cota Street (2016), Mason Street (2017), Gutierrez Street (2019), and De La Guerra Street (2020). The Federal Highway Bridge Program and City funded all of the bridge replacement projects. Previous creek widening work includes a bypass culvert under the railroad tracks (2009), Reach 1A (2012 and 2016), Reach 1B (2017), and Reach 2A and 2B-1 (2017 and 2013). Work on Reach 4 (between Gutierrez and Haley) is expected to begin in 2023.

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