I always get nervous when work comes to a screeching half on some project in Atascadero. I have more than 40 years of watching things move slowly here in the Colony with which to justify my concerns.
Even E.G. Lewis took a long time to build some things, such as the City Administration Building, which is now scheduled to reopen by next summer. It took Lewis four years to build his city hall because of finances. His first priority was to get the Printery up and running because that’s where he made his money.
My latest worry is the Traffic Way/Highway 101 overpass near St. William’s Catholic Church, and about 700 feet from my driveway. Work on this project has been on hold for the past two months.
So I called the city’s public works director, Russ Thompson, and he assured me just last week it would continue, but there were some contract issues between the contractor and Caltrans.
Rick Silva, Caltrans’ man on this job, confirmed that because of some change orders on the project, Caltrans and the construction company were renegotiating the contract.
Silva said work would resume within a couple of days. And sure enough, he was right, as the crews returned to form up the sidewalks in this area Thursday morning. For months, pedestrians have had to walk in the traffic lanes to navigate from the downtown area to the church property or en route to the high school campus.
The new brickwork is spectacular there and matches the work done on the Highway 41/101 intersection less than a mile south from Traffic Way.
Both Thompson and Silva said the project calls for sidewalks and lighting to match what has already been put in the downtown core. This will be a great improvement on one of Atascadero’s two most important off-ramps, especially in light of “first impressions” of this community as you exit the freeway.
The Traffic Way off-ramp area won’t look too nice until some time in the future when the two automotive use businesses are gone. Both are grandfathered in and will remain until economic conditions dictate otherwise. I’ve always believed economic conditions make things happen more than zoning regulations or city planning.
Several folks have suggested that while all this work is going on at the Traffic Way site some thought be given to traffic flow and maybe one more stop sign to slow cars coming from the high school that turn east onto Traffic Way heading to El Camino Real.
Others have suggested widening Santa Lucia Avenue in front of the church parking lot to get two traffic lanes there.
As I drove by the site recently, I was glad to see that the project is back on track.