Atascadero bridge repair taking a long, long time

Special to The TribuneJanuary 28, 2013 

Last September I wrote that the bridge widening and off-ramp improvements at Highway 101 and Traffic Way were taking a very long time.

Then, when we thought they were nearly finished, those of us who live close by watched as the sidewalks were removed with jackhammers because they didn’t pass inspection — they were too narrow. They were soon replaced and it looked as though the project would finally be wrapped up.

But the project has limped along for another five months. I know, because I live very close to the project — about 1,000 feet away. I see it many times a day as I move about Atascadero.

So I checked with Caltrans last week to see what is going on. I was told that work is set to begin soon on the landscaping. That’s why you see all those little colored flags stuck all over the site. If it is anything like what Caltrans did just up the road at the Morro Road/101 interchange, it’ll be great. A nice job was done there, and it is going to look beautiful when those trees mature.

The street lamps have recently been ordered and are expected to be here by the end of February or early March. They will match the other street lamps you find in the downtown. This is going to be a wonderful improvement to Atascadero’s downtown. In fact, it is already is a great project, even though it isn’t finished yet.

The two automotive uses, grandfathered into existence, will be there for some time, which is why I’ve always considered the Traffic Way/101 intersection to be the ugliest in the city. Both automotive-based businesses are good ones, but not at that location. We need a sugar daddy to come along and buy those properties up and put something that complements the Carlton Hotel in the heart of the city.

The new brick-lined overpass and sidewalks with stone pavers are a great improvement, and I applaud all the efforts that went into making them happen. I was most intrigued by the guy who hand-painted individual bricks to make them appear used.

The freeway off- and on-ramps still need to be striped, a Caltrans spokesman told me. Maybe that will happen soon, now that the Santa Barbara ramps are finished.

In the meantime, those orange traffic cones will remain a part of our viewscape for just a little while longer.

Lon Allan's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach him at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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