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Community input needed for downtown Atascadero traffic improvements

Posted at 10:56 PM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-10 01:56:03-04

The city of Atascadero is looking to make downtown safer for people out biking and walking.

City leaders are working on a plan and are asking for the public’s help.

Reducing the speed limit and the number of lanes on El Camino Real from Highway 41 to Rosario Ave is one of the proposals to make downtown streets safer.

Adding more walkway signage is another idea.

It’s part of the El Camino Downtown Traffic Calming and Corridor Plan.

Supporters say it’s needed for the growing community.

“It’s definitely starting to expand it the pressure from Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo,” said Zachary Parsons, an Atascadero Resident.

However, he worries about traffic congestion if El Camino shrinks to single lanes.

“I would be worried about it stacking up a bit when there is high traffic, but maybe just a little bit better control of some the intersections will help with that,” said Parsons.

According to the city, a traffic study found that there isn’t a need for two lanes.

One lane would be safer.

“When people cross the road, one vehicle may stop but the other vehicle heading the same direction may continue moving forward and we’ve had a number of near collisions and actual collisions and pedestrian conflicts with that,” said Phil Dunsmore, the Atascadero community development director.

The city is also looking to increase the number of parking spots, adding more diagonal spaces.

“We are looking at making it a place where pedestrians and shoppers want to be and want to interact,” said Heather Moreno, Atascadero Mayor.

David Wilson owns Grape Encounters Emporium in downtown and is happy the city is looking to accommodate parking for shoppers in the future.

“Parking isn’t yet a problem, it’s nothing like San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles where you have to park a long ways away from where you are going, but it’s going to be a problem,” said David Wilson, who owns Grape Encounters Emporium and manages El Paseo Plaza.

He hopes the improvements increase foot traffic– something that could get more customers into his shop.

“We have awesome clothing shops wine bars and restaurants there have been so many that have joined the club in the last year or so we are all dressed up and ready for anything the central coast can dish out,” said Wilson.

The city is hoping to get input on the conceptual plans in their upcoming open house.

“Some people are really excited about it and others are a little bit concerned and we want to address those concerns so public input is paramount in this process,” said Mayor Moreno. “This is our downtown.”

There will be a number of workshops:

-Thursday, April 11th, 4-7 p.m.

-Saturday, April 13th, 9-12 p.m.

-Tuesday, April 16th, 10-1 p.m.

-Wednesday, April 17th, 3-6 p.m.

The public is invited to review the traffic plans and ask questions.

The city hopes to present City Council a final draft of the plan by this summer, but Dunsmore says it will take a while to get funding once the project is approved.