May 18, 2011 6:15 PM by Danielle Lerner
Getting in and out of the Laguna Village Shopping Center in San Luis Obispo is about to get a bit easier.
The center sits at the intersection of Madonna and Los Osos Valley Road. On Wednesday city leaders and owners of the center broke ground on several improvements, aimed at easing traffic congestion in the area.
The multi-million dollar project comes just two months before the new Target store down the road is scheduled to open.
Drivers say the changes could not come soon enough.
As workers begin putting the finishing touches on the San Luis Obispo Target store, construction is just getting started at the Laguna Village Shopping Center.
"These improvements will make it easy for our customers to continue to get in and out of our shopping center," said Randy Poltl, center manager.
Phase one of the project includes widening the access driveways and reinstating the left turn lane off Madonna Road.
"Anything they do to ease traffic would be wonderful," said Rodney Sharp, who lives in San Luis Obispo.
Anyone who has driven near the intersection knows how congested things can get. Many drivers fear that will only get worse once Target is officially open.
"It's kind of a nightmare and with the increased traffic flow with Costco and then Target, I think it's going to be even more difficult and dangerous," said Natalia Wellman, who lives in San Luis Obispo.
"The impact of Target going in is going to have a profound effect on anyone driving on Los Osos Valley Road," said Sharp.
That is exactly what the center's manager is hoping to avoid. If traffic conditions warrant one, the project's second phase would install a long-disputed traffic light at the intersection of Madonna Road and Pereira Drive.
"Something definitely needs to be done, definitely" said Wellman.
Under the center's development agreement with the city certain criteria must be met to warrant that traffic light. Things like traffic levels, the number of accidents and pedestrian crossing concerns would all be factors. If it did happen, it would be in the next two years.
The improvements are expected to take two to three months. The manager of the center would not give the total cost but it is in the millions of dollars. Shopping Center Owners Christy and Rudy Molina are footing the bill.
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