Since anyone can remember, the green bushy line of oleander shrubs growing in the median strip between the lanes of Highway 101 have been a landmark for those passing Paso Robles. Soon many of those bushes will be gone.
Oleander shrubs on a dirt median serve as a barrier between the north and southbound lanes, but some will be pruned and some will be removed.
Approximately 3,000 feet of the longstanding plants south of 13th Street will remain between the new double barrier, officials said.
The Paso Robles City Council gave its OK on the $2.2 million state project in 2010 after having many discussions on preserving the oleander. Mayor Duane Picanco said the large green shrubs are iconic for the town.
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Ultimately, officials decided that some of the shrubs would not be kept and new trees would be planted. Caltrans officials say concrete is a safer barrier for motorists as well as for its workers. The council opted for a decorative concrete median to be installed.
Caltrans crews began work last week to install a concrete median barrier along Highway 101 from the Niblick Bridge north to the Highway 46 East interchange in Paso Robles.
Highway 101’s fast lanes will be closed in both directions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday next week. The closure will continue Friday in the same time frame on the northbound fast lane only. Motorists can expect up to 10-minute delays during the closure. The project is expected to be complete this summer.
Most of the median construction will happen at night with periodic day closures, officials said. Lane closures after next week are slated for release on Caltrans’ District 5 website, www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/.
Cal Portland of Santa Maria is the contractor.