Take a walk over the new pedestrian bridge at Centennial Plaza in Atascadero
In five years, Atascadero’s main downtown street will likely be narrowed from four lanes to two — and city officials are choosing from three different plans to make the area more inviting for diners and shoppers.
The “traffic calming” concept has been in the works for about two years and would involve adding additional parking and cutting down the amount of driving space on El Camino Real from Rosario Avenue to Highway 41.
City officials hope a narrower, less busy roadway will increase pedestrian traffic and encourage more businesses to locate downtown.
“We want to try and get ahead of this,” Nick DeBar, public works director told The Tribune on Friday. “We’re getting a lot of interest in development downtown.”
The City Council commissioned a $100,000 traffic study in 2017, and officials have developed three potential plans. All the proposals involve adding parking near sidewalks or in the middle of the road, in addition to bicycle lanes or shared lane markings.
The first plan would reduce El Camino Real to two lanes for the entire downtown stretch, converting the recaptured space to new parking and landscaping. It also includes short turn lanes near Sunken Gardens.
The second plan would only reduce to two lanes from Highway 41 to Traffic Way, leaving four lanes from Traffic Way to Rosario Avenue. It offers fewer parking spaces and less landscaping improvements.
The third plan is very similar to the first, but without the extra turn lanes at Sunken Gardens.
DeBar said city officials have drawn inspiration from Lancaster Boulevard in Lancaster, a Southern California city in Los Angeles County. That street now has angle parking in the middle of the road, in addition to parallel parking near the sidewalks.
The city is hosting a series of workshops to gather public input before presenting a conceptual plan to the City Council — likely during the next couple of months.
Once members give a plan the go-ahead, city staff will start putting together a financing plan and applying for grant funding, DeBar said.
Open houses will be held on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall in council chambers on the fourth floor.
City officials will also answer questions on Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at an informational booth at the Atascadero Farmers Market near East Mall and Palma Avenue.
For more information, contact the Community Development department at 805-461-5035.