The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously approved the use of eminent domain to gain access to a privately owned piece of property for construction work tied to the Los Osos Valley Road interchange project.
The temporary construction easement is needed to do work on a creekside retaining wall to support the southbound off-ramp. The city also plans to make improvements to the driveways accessing the AM-PM gas station and mini-mart at 12424 Los Osos Valley Road.
The council’s approval Tuesday night does not prohibit the city from coming to an agreement with the property owner.
“This is a necessary yet, we hope, avoidable step,” Councilman John Ashbaugh said.
The council also authorized spending up to $50,000 in outside legal help to handle an eminent domain case, should it move forward.
The city is willing to pay $15,500 to compensate the business owner for the temporary construction easement, according to a city report.
Councilwoman Kathy Smith acknowledged that the project would cause temporary impediments to the gas station but said that, overall, the work was being done for the “public good.”
The interchange project, in planning stages since 2001, will widen Los Osos Valley Road to four lanes between the Calle Joaquin intersection and South Higuera Street.
The area is notorious for its traffic backlogs.
A new two-lane bridge will be built south of the existing overcrossing. Westbound traffic will travel on the existing bridge, and eastbound traffic will be routed on the new bridge.
Other improvements, such as widened sidewalks and bike lanes, will also be included.
The interchange project is expected to accommodate increased traffic for up to 20 years.