Bouquets and brickbats

Willow Road interchange worth the wait

San Luis Obispo - The TribuneNovember 1, 2012 

A truckload of thought-we’d-never-seethe-day bouquets is en route to the county Public Works Department, the Board of Supervisors, San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, Caltrans, Granite Construction and all of the other agencies and individuals who had a hand in completing the Willow Road/Highway 101 interchange in Nipomo.

The road was indeed long, and we don’t mind saying that we sometimes doubted that the project would ever get off the ground — especially as costs escalated.

Consider: Back in 2000, it was projected that the interchange would cost a mere $7.5 million and would be completed by 2006.

Just three years later, the estimate had more than doubled, to $16 million.

Ultimately, the interchange wound up costing $20 million — but even that was a bargain, as the bids came in low on account of the recession and the subsequent slowdown in construction.

For residents of the Mesa — who now have a faster route to the freeway — the interchange is a huge convenience.

It should also make a big difference for Nipomo residents, by easing congestion at the busy Tefft Street/101 interchange.

Again, it was a long time in coming, but in the end, the Willow Road project was a job well done — and a credit to all those who persevered despite some naysaying from critics.

Ashbaugh, beware of errors

Doesn’t San Luis Obispo City Councilman John Ashbaugh understand that he’s under a microscope?

Apparently not, because his campaign errata sheet keeps on growing.

Last week, he was fined $252 for exceeding the city’s $200 campaign contribution cap by accepting a $200 donation from Supervisor Adam Hill, along with two bottles of wine valued at $84. That was on top of occasionally using his city email address, rather than his personal email, for communicating about his campaign, and filing a financial disclosure statement three days late.

Now, we find out that he erroneously listed a $1,200 expense as a donation, which required the filing of an amended statement to correct the mistake.

Again, we don’t see this as a huge deal. After all, mistakes happen, which is exactly why candidates are allowed to file amended disclosure forms to correct errors. (For the record, Mayor Jan Marx also filed an amended form to correct a mistake on her financial disclosure form.)

But as San Luis Obispo City Councilwoman Kathy Smith pointed out in an email — after chastising The Tribune Editorial Board for downplaying the earlier violations with a slap-on-the-wrist brickbat — all candidates should know the rules and make every effort to comply with them. Fair enough.

So, John, as a companion to that slap on the wrist, you get an eraser-tipped brickbat. Use it to fix those mistakes — before filing any more forms.

A fitting honor for a fallen hero

These days, we often use the term “hero” loosely — applying it to anyone who goes a little bit out of his or her way to help others.

Last week, though, we were reminded of true heroics when a stretch of Highway 101, between Madonna Road and San Luis Bay Drive, was dedicated to Christopher Meadows.

Meadows, 24, was a county Search and Rescue Team volunteer who was killed in the line of duty on May 24, 2009. He was responding to a report of an accident on the Oceano Dunes when his ATV rolled on top of him.

Naming a busy stretch of highway in honor of Christopher Meadows is a fitting way to salute a remarkable young man.

We honor the memory of Christopher Meadows with a hero’s bouquet, and we commend all rescue workers for their willingness to put themselves in danger to save others.

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