Planned part-time traffic lane through five cities is a state ‘pilot project’ | News | San Luis Obispo

As plans to curb traffic on Highway 101 southbound from San Luis Obispo inch closer to fruition, a Pismo Beach City Council member calls part of the plan “unacceptable.”

Mayor Pro Tempore Mary Ann Reiss is concerned about the height of the median barrier which obscures the view of the Pacific coast.

“It’s not going to be increased at all, is it? Because it’s too high now,” she said after an update on the project at the city council meeting on 15 november.

Stretching from San Luis Bay Drive to the railroad overpass just south of Price Canyon Road, the project would widen the inside shoulder of Highway 101 into a part-time 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekday lane and realign the southbound lanes to bypass Pismo. Rock (an Aboriginal cultural resource). Plans would also establish a park-and-ride center with zero-emission charging stations at Price Street and Maddie Road and extend the shared-use path from Shell Beach to Avila Beach Drive for pedestrians and cyclists. The Five-City Multimodal Transportation Network Improvement Project released its final environmental impact report in August.

The concrete barriers separating the north and south lanes that are “affected by the project” will gain about 10 inches in height due to federal safety requirements, said CalTrans project manager Paul Valadao. He told council members Nov. 15 that due to increased vehicle heights, the Federal Highway Administration currently requires barriers to be at least 42 inches high to prevent them from being “rolled over by wandering vehicles.

“It’s unacceptable now, so I don’t know how I feel about it,” Reiss replied.

Projects that do not meet federal guidelines, Valadao added, can lose government funding.

Expected to cost approximately $85 million, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) has allocated approximately $20 million for the development phases of the project and is awaiting the results of two Senate Bill 1 funding applications from the California Transportation Commission. Totaling just over $65 million, SLOCOG transport planner Stephen Hanamaikai said he expects to get answers 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 inside shoulder of a freeway. In April 2018, Interstate 580 in the Bay Area opened an eastbound part-time lane over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Part-time lanes are so new to the state that the California Vehicle Code “currently prohibits general purpose travel on the shoulder of state highways,” according to the Five Cities Environmental Impact Report.

“Therefore, the project is proposed as a pilot project during its first seven years of operation, after which Caltrans would seek legislative approval to make the part-time traffic lane a permanent feature,” the report said. “If approval is not granted, the part-time taxiway would likely be reduced to a 14-foot-wide full-time shoulder.”

Valadao said new times that the lanes have been successfully implemented on I-70 in Colorado as well as a few locations in the northeast.

“So we are fully engaged with our federal counterparts,” he said, referring to the Federal Highway Administration. “It’s been really cool to work directly with them.”

A red x or green arrow would let commuters know when the lane is available, while a motorway 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 a HOV or carpool lane, and usage rules would be enforced by the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement.

The truck lane that begins between the San Luis Bay and Avila Beach drives will be “recycled” into the project, Valadao said.

“It doesn’t work very well,” Valadao said. “It causes a lot of damage.”

Caltrans plans to take the existing sidewalk and use it to build the part-time lane, which should relieve Pismo Beach City Council member Sheila Blake, who expressed frustration with cars using the lane. truck traffic to zoom. Traffic.

“Can’t we put somebody in there with a bunch of nails so that when somebody comes rushing in and they think ‘ah ha ha, I’m going to beat all these other people’, couldn’t- can’t we do something to these people?” she laughed at the November 15 meeting. “No, I guess not.” Δ

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