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County seeks gas tax grants for Bob Jones Trail, 101 congestion project

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After years of planning, three major San Luis Obispo County transportation projects are almost "shovel ready." But officials are banking on a funding boost from state gas taxes to get them to the finish line.

After earning authorization from the SLO County Board of Supervisors on May 5, the SLO Council of Governments (SLOCOG) will apply for up to $44 million in state grants to complete the Bob Jones Trail extension, a Highway 101 congestion relief project near Pismo Beach, and a new roundabout interchange at Avila Beach Drive.

FINISH LINE SLO County is hoping that state transportation grants can help fund the long-awaited Bob Jones Trail extension. - IMAGE COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY
  • Image Courtesy Of SLO County
  • FINISH LINE SLO County is hoping that state transportation grants can help fund the long-awaited Bob Jones Trail extension.

The grants are part of the Congested Corridor Program, funded by Senate Bill 1 (2017) gas taxes.

"These are competitive statewide funds, and we were unsuccessful in our applications last time," said Peter Rodgers, executive director of SLOCOG. "This round we think we're in a very good position."

If awarded the funding, SLO County and Caltrans could start construction on the projects in 2023.

All three projects are somewhat related. The Bob Jones Trail extension completes the missing link of the popular bike and pedestrian path, connecting its current start location on Ontario Road with the Octagon Barn near the city of SLO. The nearby Highway 101 project promises southbound traffic relief by adding a part-time left shoulder travel lane through Pismo Beach at peak afternoon rush hour.

"It will be open to ride as an expanded shoulder," Rodgers explained. "It's a really cost-effective project."

Then, the new Avila Beach Drive interchange will provide a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 101, Avila Beach Drive, and Shell Beach Road. The county is emphasizing the accompanying bike lane improvements, which will provide connections between the bike networks of Shell Beach and Avila Beach, including the Bob Jones Trail.

"What the [state] really wants to see is a multi-modal package and safety improvements," Rodgers said.

SLO County will find out if it's awarded the grants in November. Δ

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