As the project to handle Highway 101 traffic heading south from San Luis Obispo nears completion, a Pismo Beach City Council member believes part of the plan is “unacceptable.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Mary Ann Reiss is concerned about the height of the median barrier obscuring views of the Pacific coast.
“It’s not going to go up at all, is it? Because it’s too high right now,” she said after an update on the project at the Nov. 15 City Council meeting.
Extending from San Luis Bay Drive to the railroad overpass south of Price Canyon Road, the project will widen the inside portion of the 101 Freeway to one travel lane part-time from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays and will to realign the southbound lanes to detour around Pismo. Rock (an indigenous cultural resource). The plans also would create a park and ride center with zero-emission charging stations at Price Street and Maddie Road and extend the Shell Beach shared-use path to Avila Beach Drive for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Five Cities Multimodal Transportation Network Improvement Project released its final environmental impact report in August.
The concrete barriers separating the northbound and southbound lanes that are “project affected” will gain about 10 inches in height due to federal safety requirements, CalTrans project manager Paul Valadao said. He told council members Nov. 15 that because of the increase in vehicles, the Federal Highway Administration currently mandates that the barriers be at least 42 inches high to prevent them from being “run over by the wrong vehicles.”
“It’s unacceptable right now, so I’m not sure how I feel about it,” Reiss replied.
Projects that don’t adhere to federal guidelines, Valadao added, could lose government funding.
Estimated to cost about $85 million, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) has allocated about $20 million for the project’s development phases and is awaiting the results of two Senate Bill 1 funding applications from the Transportation Committee in California. Totaling just over $65 million, SLOCOG Transportation Planner Stephen Hanamaikai said they expect to hear back next June. CalTrans and SLOCOG are also working on a coastal development permit application.
When completed, it would be the second stretch of road in California with a part-time travel lane on the interior of a freeway. In April 2018, Interstate 580 in the Bay Area opened a part-time eastbound lane over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Part-time travel lanes are so new to the state that the California Vehicle Code currently “prohibits general purpose travel on the shoulders of state highways,” according to Five Cities’ environmental impact report.
“Therefore, the project is being proposed as a pilot project during the initial seven years of operation, after which Caltrans will pursue legislative approval to make the part-time travel lane a permanent feature,” the report states. “If approval is not granted, the part-time travel lane will likely revert to a full-time 14-foot-wide shoulder.”
Valadao said New Times that lanes have been successfully implemented on I-70 in Colorado as well as in several places in the Northeast.
“So we are fully engaged with our federal counterparts,” he said, referring to the Federal Highway Administration. “It’s been really interesting working directly with them.”
A red x or green arrow would let commuters know when the lane is available for use, while a highway service patrol would ensure the shoulder is clear before 2 p.m. Valadao said the patrol is a service that already exists today and is funded by SLOCOG. The lane would have signage similar to an HOV or car lane, and rules for use would be enforced by the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement.
The truck travel lane that starts between San Luis Bay and Avila Beach will be “recycled” in the project, Valadao said.
“It doesn’t work very well,” Valadao said. “It causes a lot of havoc.”
Caltrans plans to take the existing sidewalk and use it to build the part-time travel lane, something that should come as a relief to Pismo Beach City Councilwoman Sheila Blake, who expressed her frustration with the cars that use the truck travel lane to zoom. traffic.
“Can’t we just put somebody in there with a nail bar so that when somebody comes rushing down and thinks ‘ah ha ha, I’m going to beat all these other people’ – can’t we do we do something to these people?” she said with a laugh during the Nov. 15 meeting. “No, I think not.” Δ