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LOVR/101 interchange moves ahead

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The city of San Luis Obispo is moving ahead with a $30 million project to revamp the crowded interchange at Los Osos Valley Road and Highway 101.

The project has been on Caltrans’ on-deck circle for years, but the road agency recently approved environmental and other project reports, signaling that the way ahead may finally be clear.

The area is a widely loathed traffic crapfest that serves as an entrance to the southern part of SLO. As large mega-box retail stores have come to dominate Los Osos Valley Road, the 101 intersection has become more of a traffic nightmare.

The SLO City Council gave a unanimous go-ahead to the project at its Oct. 4 meeting, acknowledging it will cost a lot of money. The city has committed and spent about $11.6 million for its share of the project, and much of the rest of the money is slated to come from the state, which has committed to pay for half of the project.

The project includes the addition of another bridge over the freeway to widen Los Osos Valley Road to four lanes and provide significantly improved entrance and exit ramps to the freeway. Construction is due to begin in 2014.

Residents of the nearby Los Verdes Park housing areas protested the project, telling the council that the new bridge and widened roads and ramps would create increased noise and dangerous traffic patterns.

The council instructed city staffers to take the residents’ concerns into account and then approved the project.

“This interchange is of regional significance and is important to anyone who lives or works in town,” said Mayor Jan Marx. “It’s also important to the southerly development of our city, and I support it, and I think it needs to be built as soon as possible.”

SLO residents shouldn’t hold their breath in anticipation of the new interchange. The council made a similar vote in 2008, but lawsuits, difficulties dealing with utility lines, and state bureaucratic hiccups slowed its construction.

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