Mission Creek Channelization – Santa Barbara CA


In 1934, the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA)/Public Works Administration (PWA) financed the construction of the first continuous highway across the city of Santa Barbara (roughly six miles), taking through traffic off city streets.  The route followed the Southern Pacific tracks. Along the new route, Mission Creek was channelized and several new bridges were built.

Today, the highway is jointly State Route 1 and Interstate 101.  While it seems to follow the route built in the 1930s, it has been altered by subsequent expansions by the state department of highway.  It is not clear what – if any – portions of the New Deal era work remain.

The District Engineer provided a detailed description of the work in a 1934 article.  Here is his description on the work on Mission Creek:

“…Finally, a route, closely paralleling the Southern Pacific railroad was adopted, which involved a total construction of 5.9 miles of highway, together with two steel and timber bridges over Mission Creek,…

….Another construction feature of the work is the changing of the channel of Mission Creek over a length of 1100 feet. This work consists of constructing a new channel with a 20 foot bottom about 9 feet high. and lining with mesh reinforced concrete 8 inches thick on the base and 6 inches on the walls…

….The two bridges being built across Mission Creek provide a clear roadway width of 60 feet with two 4 foot sidewalks.” 


Source notes

Article by L. H. Gibson, District Engineer, District V in  California Highway and Public Works, July 1934.

Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on December 28, 2019.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Mission Creek @ Highway 101
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Coordinates: 34.4187, -119.68

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