Proposal for boardwalk, bike path in Morro Bay moves forward

Pathway as well as new bridge would link up existing Harbor Walk with north Morro Bay

nwilson@thetribunenews.comJanuary 20, 2014 

The Morro Bay City Council has given its go-ahead for a bike and pedestrian trail, along with a new bridge, that will offer beach vistas and connect the city’s Harbor Walk to north Morro Bay.

The council voted 4-1 last week, with Councilwoman Nancy Johnson dissenting, to approve a conditional use permit for the project, which now must be approved by the state Coastal Commission before construction can begin.

The proposal envisions an 8-foot-wide pedestrian boardwalk and a separate, adjacent 12-foot-wide bike path starting near the Morro Bay Power Plant entrance.

The pathway, which would extend the Morro Bay Harbor Walk completed in 2008, continues up a dirt portion of Embarcadero Road north of the power plant across Morro Creek to Atascadero Road.

The pedestrian trail would stretch about 1,500 feet, and the bike path would be 2,200 feet long.

A bridge measuring 130 feet long and 12-1/2 feet wide would take the pathway over Morro Creek to connect north Morro Bay so residents would no longer have to walk or ride through the creek to get to the other side.

The city wants to add a local trail to give local residents and tourists access to the Morro Bay waterfront, as well as to develop new educational interpretive sites for pedestrians and cyclists and to ensure there’s a safe way to cross Morro Creek.

Johnson said she dissented because she felt the project fell within the flood plain.

Grant money from sources including the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Scenic Byways Program is expected to pay for much of the project. A portion of the project may have to be put on hold until additional funding is secured, Mayor Jamie Irons said.

Irons said he liked the initial concept of the project, but he wanted to add low-impact lighting to make people feel safer walking on the trail at night. A lighting component was part of the project’s final approval.

“We want to make it comfortable for people to use and for families to go back and forth on,” Irons said. “Some people might camp there and want to use the trail. If they had to drive around to get to a restaurant because they didn’t feel safe at night without the lighting, then that defeats the purpose.”

One educational interpretive site would be  on the pedestrian path, overlooking a dune scrub habitat as well as Morro Rock. Another would be positioned overlooking Morro Creek and the beach.

The six-month project is expected to take place between August and February if approved by the Coastal Commission.

No equipment would be used within the Morro Creek channel.

The bridge would not be used for vehicle travel, but it would allow access for emergency vehicles.

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