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Atascadero wants to make downtown more walkable. One idea is to narrow El Camino Real

A traffic plan for downtown Atascadero could narrow a stretch of El Camino Real from Rosario Avenue to Highway 41.
A traffic plan for downtown Atascadero could narrow a stretch of El Camino Real from Rosario Avenue to Highway 41. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Atascadero leaders are developing a plan to change traffic patterns downtown that may include narrowing a stretch of El Camino Real.

City Council members on Tuesday voted unanimously to fund a $100,000 downtown corridor plan for a portion of the road stretching from Rosario Avenue to Highway 41. The plan will likely take about a year to complete, according to Nick DeBar, the city’s public works director.

The city will contract with San Diego-based KTUA to create a plan that will support new developments, improve pedestrian safety and walkability, and enhance the downtown area, according to a city staff report.

Residents and business owners are concerned about “the safety and function of El Camino Real,” especially at intersections and mid-block crossings, according to the report.

One idea would involve narrowing the road in sections and adding angled parking spots to replace the current parallel spaces. But the corridor plan’s traffic findings would need to support this idea to make it a reality, DeBar said.

“Maybe, at portions of it, we could get by with two lanes,” he said. “... We just don’t want to create a bottleneck down here, either.”

DeBar said the city wants to re-examine transportation patterns due to an increase in downtown business development, additional public events and more pedestrian traffic from Atascadero High School and Atascadero Middle School.

New restaurants and breweries on Entrada Avenue, the La Plaza project on El Camino Real and a planned Colony Square hotel are among the developments pushing the city to look at its traffic patterns.

“All these things are kind of forcing us to look at what this corridor is going to look like in five to 10 years,” DeBar said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

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