In a Feb. 24 hearing filled with optimism, grand plans, and neon bike jerseys, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors unanimously gave the green light to a planned 4 1/2-mile trail segment that would complete the Bob Jones Trail between SLO and Avila Beach.
Though the vote was a major step forward for the project, vital details regarding funding and construction of the trail aren’t yet fully fleshed out.
The Feb. 24 board decision enables the county parks department to apply for outside grant funding, negotiate with relevant landowners to secure easements, and—eventually—oversee construction of the trail itself, which could begin as early as 2017.
A 2008 engineer’s estimate pegs the total construction cost of the new segment at $10 million, with annual operation and maintenance costs expected to run between $40,000 and $50,000. The proposed trail is designed for cyclists and pedestrians alike, and will also necessitate the construction of three new bridges over San Luis Creek.
Supervisor Adam Hill—whose District 3 includes the Bob Jones Trail—said he considers the new segment to be “a really critical part of the future of our county” as well as a “major priority” going forward.
Support for the trail—which will run between the Octagon Barn on South Higuera Street and an existing trailhead on Ontario Road—was overwhelming at the meeting, with roughly 15 speakers in favor of the plan at public comment and no one speaking in opposition.
The existing segment of the Bob Jones Trail runs for about 2 1/2 miles in the Avila area and, once completed, this new segment would connect the two, creating a roughly 7-mile “city to sea” corridor for bikers and walkers—separate from busy, dangerous roads.
As proposed, the trail would largely run through privately owned agricultural land, paralleling Highway 101. According to the project staff report, “Construction is anticipated to occur in roughly three phases as funds become available, with completion anticipated within six years.”