The Atascadero City Council got an update Tuesday, Sept. 25 on plans to restripe and add or redesign sidewalks along Highway 41 coming into the city center from San Gabriel Road.
According to the report delivered by Public Works Director Nick DeBar, the state’s transportation agency, Caltrans, “is currently in the final design phase of the State Route (SR) 41 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) project that will provide for pedestrian and [Americans with Disabilities Act] ADA improvements.”
For those who might have thought Caltrans wasn’t in the business of building sidewalks, their regional Public Information Officer Colin Jones notes SHOPP is part of a “complete streets” doctrine with emphasis on the safety of all users. That’s especially important, he adds, where the state-controlled roadway also serves as a defacto mainstreet for local communities.
Ringing in at over $7 million, DeBar and councilmembers reflected that the improvements were a chance to get a great deal of work done by the state for the cost of a relatively minor maintenance agreement, although, it will cost streetside parking near some businesses.
Jones added that the ADA compliant sidewalk improvements alone total $2.6 million.
As DeBar did a step-by-step presentation of the route with powerpoint slides showing the green highlighted bike lanes to be added, Mayor Tom O'Malley said it was, “one of the best designed projects we’ve seen in a long time.”
The project, slated for implementation at the end of 2019 according to Caltrans, is broadly described as being oriented around “pedestrian safety and connectivity, including updating ADA ramps and constructing the missing links in the sidewalks along the corridor from El Camino Real to Portola Road.”
The SR 41 SHOPP project, reported DeBar will allow the City to implement components of the SR 41 Complete Streets Feasibility Study which they started in 2016. The preferred options included for planning at that time included looking at Atascadero Avenue as a bike corridor to divert that traffic from the already complex intersection and underpass for El Camino Real and Highways 101 and 41.
DeBar said he was often asked by members of the public why the City has given so much attention to pedestrian and bicycle improvements recently, “and I tell them, ‘because that’s how we get it all fixed.’”
As noted by City Council candidate Susan Funk, who turned out to be the only member of the public to stick around for public comment on the report, the City is currently looking at traffic calming measures for El Camino Real, which could include similar bike lanes.
She expressed concern that, with the majority of the City’s commuters in the population center to the south of the project, more attention be paid to future connectivity in that direction.
While this project is slated for next year, Caltrans is currently working on repaving to the west on SR 41 along some of the same area.