Anyone driving during the after-work rush hour can tell you there's a traffic problem on Highway 101 in Pismo Beach — but a fix could be on the horizon if a plan to add a part-time travel lane wins public support.
Locals have long bemoaned the near-daily standstill heading south from Avila Beach through Shell Beach, where traffic routinely backs up as drivers round the curve from San Luis Obispo.
Potential fixes for the problem have been talked about for years, but as funding dried up for the state, it and many other transportation priorities were put on the back burner.
Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) — the 12-cent base gasoline excise tax increase that went into effect in November — has since stabilized the state's transportation funding, and the California Transportation Commission in March approved a $261 million allocation to fix San Luis Obispo County roads, including the Highway 101 congestion through Pismo Beach.
Now that the funding appears more secure, Caltrans and the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments are seeking insight into several potential fixes, including a proposal to add a part-time travel lane between Spyglass Drive and north of Five Cities Drive.
The agencies will hold a public meeting Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Pismo Beach City Council chambers to get input from the public on the scope of the projects. A presentation on the proposal will be begin at 7 p.m.
The part-time travel lane would be used during peak travel periods like the afternoon commute on weekdays or during special events, Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said. It would transform the existing left inside shoulder into a lane that could be used only during specified times.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, part-time travel lanes are a traffic-calming measure used primarily on the East Coast and several Midwestern states. They are not in wide use in California.
Caltrans will also present options to extend the truck climbing lane in the same area, improve the southbound off-ramp at Mattie Road and potentially close the Shell Beach Road on-ramp.
For those who can't attend the meeting, comments on the proposal can be submitted to Caltrans associate environmental planner Lara Bertaina at 50 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo or by phone at 805-542-4610.
Comments should be submitted by June 16.