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$65M grant awarded to project aimed at easing congestion on busy Highway 101 corridor in Pismo Beach

HIGHWAY 101 .jpg
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 06, 2023

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments received a $65 million grant from the California Transportation Commission to fund a new project that would expand Highway 101 through Pismo Beach.

The project aims to alleviate a nightmare many drivers face and try to avoid.

“I am well aware of the traffic on the one highway there, so it just seems to get worse year after year," said Jerry Alcorn, visiting from Fullerton.

“Weekends are worse with the RVs and everything else coming into town," added Shell Beach resident Ed Lubinsky.

That could change in the next couple of years with a new state grant that will help fund the Five Cities Multimodal Transportation Network Enhancement Project.

“I think it's the largest grant we received in our history, so it's certainly an exciting accomplishment," said SLOCOG Transportation Planner Stephen Hanamaikai.

 The primary focus is adding a travel lane on the southbound side.

“That was the primary objective of the highway project... to really relieve that bottleneck that we see every day, especially during the holiday weekends and during the peak summer tourism time," Hanamaikai explained.

“I think it’s necessary. We sat here in the evenings and watched the traffic go by, and there's always congestion up there on the freeway," Lubinsky said.

That added lane would run north of the Avila Beach Drive offramp and to near Price Street, extending for about four and a half miles.

The lane would only be open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. but that would change if other highway closures impact traffic on the 101.

“Outside of those hours, there's a partnership with Caltrans and CHP to enforce the prohibition of use outside of that 2 to 7 time period," Hanamaikai said.

The $65 million grant will fund three different projects including a mobility hub that will feature an electric vehicle charging station and transit stop, and a shared-use bike and pedestrian path in Shell Beach.

The main project is the expansion of southbound Highway 101 is in the middle of the design phase and construction is expected to start in January 2025.

Construction is expected to take one year and drivers should expect road closures during that time.

The total cost of the project is estimated at 85 million.