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Community discusses Hwy 154 safety concerns in first town hall meeting

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Posted at 10:47 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 02:10:59-05

SOLVANG, Calif. — Community members had the chance to share their safety concerns and solutions with elected officials, CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol Monday night as part of a Highway 154 safety town hall.

"We're here to see what the government is going to do about slowing down the traffic on the 154 and putting some more safety in at the intersections of Roblar and Grand because they're really dicey right now," said Los Olivos resident Rick Clifford.

The California Highway Patrol says the number of number of collisions aren't actually increasing on the 154 but a majority of those collisions are caused by drivers from our own backyard.

"Speed and unsafe turn movements and DUI's were to blame and the accidents are more likely to involve local drivers. So it's on us to take more responsibility, to drive more safely, and make sure our neighbors do as well," said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Senator Jackson says over the past few years there has been work done to make the 154 more safe like trying to ask companies like Google maps to suggest people take the 101 instead, but so far the county has had no luck. She says there was success however in adding rumble strips to much of the roadways as well as helping the CHP garner grants for extra enforcement.

"So when we go out and we do our targeted enforcement, usually we do it with between 3 to 5 CHP units out there on 154 at various locations in just in an hour, 1.5 hour's time, we can usually write between 10 and 20 tickets depending on the volume of traffic," said Commander Jim Frost of the Buellton CHP.

Those who commute on the 154 are hoping leaders can create solutions soon before another tragic collision happens.

"[I'd like to see them] adding maybe speed cameras, issue tickets, even increase patrol," said Santa Ynez resident Gary Waples.

Monday night was just the first of what could be several town halls on this issue.

It's unclear at this time when the next meeting might be.

The most recent fatal crash on the 154 was in October. Authorities say a Santa Barbara man, John Roderick Dungan, intentionally drove his car into on coming traffic, killing a mother and her two young children.

Dungan has entered a not guilty plea and is due back in court next month.