SLO County supervisors to decide fate of Bob Jones Trail extension

Bicyclists ride along part of the Bob Jones trail in Avila Beach.
Bicyclists ride along part of the Bob Jones trail in Avila Beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A plan to expand the Bob Jones Trail by 4.4 miles will be discussed at an upcoming San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting in response to concerns that the project could lose grant funding if the board fails to move it forward.

Supervisors voted 4-1 to place the issue on a future agenda to decide whether to allocate county funds and ask construction companies to bid on the project that would complete a city-to-sea path. That would allow right-of-way discussions to begin and essentially make the project “shovel ready,” which supporters said will improve the chances of receiving grants in the upcoming year.

“This is an urgent matter. We can’t wait six months and potentially lose $1 million,” Bruce Hilton, chair of the county Parks and Recreation Commission, told supervisors Tuesday.

He said the county could miss out on upcoming transportation grants if the project is not ready, and he pointed out that 70 people attended a March 23 commission meeting to request the project be moved forward.

In 2008, the trail’s expansion was estimated to cost $10.5 million. A 12-foot-wide stretch would go from the Octagon Barn on South Higuera Street to an existing trailhead and parking area on Ontario Road and connect to a heavily used, 8-foot-wide bike and walking trail to Avila Beach.

The multiuse pathway project is in the final stages of an environmental study and review phase. Engineers estimate the next phase of the project will cost $1.1 million, of which about $380,000 is still needed, according to a staff report.

Supervisor Lynn Compton was the lone vote against placing the issue on the agenda.

“I’m not going to prioritize something over the Nipomo (parks) we are in deficit for,” Compton said.

The Bob Jones Trail expansion will likely be heard at the board’s May 9 meeting.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930, @MonicaLVaughan