A third lane may be added to Hwy 101 near Pismo Beach – but there’s a catch

Posted at 10:32 PM, May 15, 2018

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments and Caltrans want to improve sections of Highway 101 near Pismo Beach so there won’t be as many traffic jams.

The problem area is between Avila Beach and Pismo Beach.

"Traffic often times comes to a very slow crawl, sometimes a dead stop," said Jim Shivers, public affairs officer for Caltrans District 5.

"I find the biggest problem to be at the Shell Beach exit, right before the three lanes merge into two and immediately after, there’s the exit," said Jean Spreitzer, a Grover Beach resident.

SLOCOG and Caltrans are hoping to fix that problem by extending the existing third lane near Spyglass Drive.

"If the three lanes could go all the way to the exit, that would help significantly," Spreitzer said.

Construction crews would also build a new lane between Avila Beach and Pismo Beach, extending about three to four miles.

"There is an unused portion of the highway near the center divider and it’s that location where we’re looking at installing that part-time commuter lane," Shivers said.

The lane would "part-time" because it would only be open during peak travel hours.

"Imagine this lane being open Monday through Friday from 3:00 to maybe 6:00 p.m., major holiday weekends, at times where there are major events going on," Shivers said.

Other possible southbound 101 improvements include reconstructing the Mattie Rd. on- and off-ramps and potentially removing the Shell Beach on-ramp near Dinosaur Caves Park.

Construction, if plans are finalized, wouldn’t start for a few more years. The estimated construction cost ranges from $9.4 million to $24.7 million.

County officials want your input on this and they’d like to hear any environmental concerns you have. They’re hosting an open house at Pismo Beach City Council Chambers at 760 Mattie Rd. from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday.