News

Atascadero allocates funds for downtown infrastructure project

By

comment

Atascadero is one step closer to putting its plans for downtown improvements into action.

At its Oct. 26 meeting, Atascadero City Council awarded the contract to develop construction drawings for the El Camino Real Downtown Infrastructure Enhancement Project. The council also authorized the allocation of $3 million from the city's state budget allocation funds to the project.

IMPROVING DOWNTOWN Atascadero has lots of goals for its downtown area, some of which will be achieved through the El Camino Real Downtown Infrastructure Enhancement Project. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ATASCADERO
  • Photo Courtesy Of The City Of Atascadero
  • IMPROVING DOWNTOWN Atascadero has lots of goals for its downtown area, some of which will be achieved through the El Camino Real Downtown Infrastructure Enhancement Project.

The infrastructure plan has been in the works since 2017 and was approved conceptually in August 2020, Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore told New Times in an email.

"Plans for downtown aim to achieve economic development, safety, and enhanced commerce by reducing traffic speed, supplying up to 130 parking spaces, increasing aesthetics, and making places to walk, gather, and enjoy," Dunsmore said. "New crosswalks will provide safety for school crossing and for making the former highway a part of the downtown."

Increased parking and pedestrian safety translates into people being able to park once and do multiple activities from one location, Dunsmore said, like dining, shopping, and entertainment.

"By creating spaces that people enjoy and feel safe, you create an environment that people are attracted to," he said.

One of the main issues that downtown Atascadero faces right now is that El Camino Real was built like a highway. With Highway 101 handling much of the quick-moving traffic, the main downtown corridor "no longer requires four lanes and a center median," Dunsmore explained.

"Instead, the extra space can accommodate parking, landscape, and other features that reduce traffic speed, make it safer to cross the street, and make the space more attractive to walk, ride a bike, or provide things like outdoor dining and small events," he said.

A few different factors led Atascadero to embark on this enhancement plan, according to the city's website. For one, the downtown is experiencing an economic upswing, with new businesses bringing more visitors downtown. Another consideration is traffic from the high school and middle school, leading to concerns about safety on El Camino Real, particularly at intersections. Lastly, business owners and residents alike have expressed the need for more parking.

With the contract for construction drawings now awarded, the city is still working on securing additional funding to complete the project, Dunsmore said. During the Oct. 26 meeting, Atascadero City Councilmember Susan Funk thanked State Sen. John Laird (D-Carmel) for his "advocacy and tireless work behind and in front of the scenes," in helping the city secure the $3 million state budget allocation for the project.

"We thank Sen. John Laird for that, for finding a way to achieve an equitable solution for Atascadero to a longstanding bureaucratic problem," Funk said. Δ

Tags

Add a comment