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The Student News Site of Laguna Blanca School

The Fourth Estate

The La Cumbre Calamity

With the ability to accommodate a limited number of cars, the La Cumbre intersection is being pushed beyond its limits daily, causing issues for student drivers.
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Hayden Abeysekera
La Cumbre Road and Calle Real

It’s 8:10 a.m. and you are confident that you can make it to school on time… until you hit the La Cumbre Overpass.

The overpass between La Cumbre Road, Calle Real, and Las Palmas Drive backs up every school day starting at 7:45 a.m. 

Drivers attempt to beat delays with tactics from running red lights to illegal merging. 

“I’ve been the person who cuts before. I usually dislike people who do that because we all need to do our part and that’s the opposite of helpful,” senior Drew Levinson said. “The craziest thing that I observed in the intersection was a student rear-ending a parent’s car.”

These frequent backups are caused by more cars entering Hope Ranch than the intersection can hold at capacity. 

“A lot of people get stuck in the intersection turning left off of the freeway. It’s chaotic for everyone,” senior Sasha Drucker said. “We all have to wait. You aren’t better than everybody just because you want to go in the other turn lane. Wait with everybody else.”

There are three traffic lights in the intersection: two on La Cumbre Road and one where Calle Real meets La Cumbre, which is after the freeway exit for La Cumbre. Light sequencing on the second La Cumbre light doesn’t move all the cars through the intersection per cycle because a stop sign marks the entrance into Hope Ranch at Las Palmas Drive.

The number of vehicles entering the intersection from both directions greatly exceeds the capacity of the overpass. 

“The company I interned for, Associated Traffic Engineers of Santa Barbara (ATESB) did a survey of this. They couldn’t solve it because they wanted to build a roundabout and couldn’t because they didn’t own the land,” senior Cole Murphy said.

The stop sign at Las Palmas creates a short window for cars to cross the intersection as those exiting the 101 southbound attempt to make the right turn to enter Hope Ranch as well. 

“One time it actually took me 30 minutes to get through the intersection,” senior Gabriel Lea said. 

Tensions run high in the intersection and a bad morning at La Cumbre can result in an unexcused tardy as per the new tardy policy established at the start of this school year. 

“When I get stuck in the traffic, I’m not always late, but it gets really tight,” Sasha said.

Even more upsetting than the late mark on a student’s record can be the negative mood that sets the tone for the day caused by being submerged in wall-to-wall road rage that early in the morning.

Dean of Students Blake Dorfman attempted to educate the student body about another strategy for driving to school at the start of the year, dubbing it the “Las Po Shortcut” compared to the existing “La Cumbre Late Zone.” There are some doubts over which way is actually better, but students make use of both. 

“Las Positas is sometimes faster so that’s a great solution to the problem when it’s not under construction. Sometimes they do construction (on Las Positas) and then it’s only one lane. You can sit there for 10 minutes doing nothing,” Cole said.

Judging by the current state of the intersection — crawling with cars- it is evident that few people heed these warnings. 

This shortcut isn’t accessible to all students, such as students who reside north of Laguna or in the Mission Canyon area who must face the intersection every morning, as it is the only entrance to Las Palmas from the east. The La Cumbre intersection will remain a testament to poor traffic planning for the near future. 

“It affects my everyday life because I’m one or two minutes late to class frequently. I try to leave as early as possible, but for those of us who live far away from school, it is a hassle,” Drew said.

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About the Contributor
Lucia Camp, Co News Editor
Lucia Camp is a senior and second-year journalism student. Lucia's hobbies include cooking, hiking, paddleboarding, yoga, and sewing. Lucia enjoys playing tennis and spending time with loved ones. She is also a member of the Laguna mock trial team. She has interests in criminal and social justice, local issues, and environmental science and is an active member of the Santa Barbara Youth Council.
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