Plans to link San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach via the Bob Jones Pathway have reached an important milestone.
The county has released the environmental impact report for construction of the last major portion — 4 1/2 miles from the Octagon Barn just south of San Luis Obispo to the path’s staging area on Ontario Road.
“The EIR is one of the big hurdles we need to get through before we can get federal funding, acquire property and begin construction,” said Shaun Cooper, a senior planner with the county Department of Parks and Recreation.
Meanwhile, the county and city of San Luis Obispo are considering another key segment of the pathway, the alignment of a half-mile segment between Los Osos Valley Road and the Octagon Barn. The two entities have completed a study of the alignment, which concluded that a route along San Luis Obispo Creek is the preferred alternative.
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will discuss the study Sept. 10, and the city Planning Commission will consider it when it meets Sept. 11.
If all goes as planned, construction could begin on the 4 1/2-mile segment in 2015, and the trail could be finished in 2021. No significant and unavoidable environmental impacts have been identified.
When both segments are complete, the Bob Jones Trail will offer cyclists a continuous, dedicated trail for 11 miles from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach.
The project calls for a dedicated biking and hiking path to be constructed parallel to Highway 101 and San Luis Obispo Creek. It includes four bridge crossings over the creek and one 300-foot-long bridge over the highway near the Ontario Road staging area.
The project will include a 6-foot-wide asphalt surfaced pathway with 2-foot-wide shoulders on each side of the surfaced pathway. The trail will be adjacent to farm fields and orchards for about half its length.
Construction is expected to take six years to complete and will be undertaken in three phases. The new trail will be a major safety improvement over the current path, which places bicyclists next to traffic and requires dangerous road crossings.
“The proposed project will provide an improved and safer route for bicyclists and new opportunities for pedestrians, encouraging greater use by families and users of all ages and abilities,” the project summary states.
The county Parks and Recreation Commission will review the EIR at its Dec. 12 meeting. The Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing in January on the document.
The public can comment on the EIR until Oct. 21. Online copies of the report are available at www.slocounty.ca.gov/Page775.aspx.