Public still has time to comment on proposed Hwy. 101 median between Nipomo and Arroyo

About 40 people attended a meeting earlier this week to learn more about Caltrans’ plans to install a median barrier along Highway 101 between Nipomo and Arroyo Grande in an effort to prevent collisions.

Caltrans plans to construct a 4.6-mile barrier from Los Barros Road to the Traffic Way exit in Arroyo Grande. The $7 million project would be funded with money dedicated to highway safety improvements, said Jim Shivers, public information officer for Caltrans in San Luis Obispo. Construction is expected to start in 2012.

The agency studied the number of collisions along that stretch from January 2006 through December 2008 and recorded 185 total collisions, three of which involved fatal injuries. Shivers said 101 people were injured.

The barrier would restrict left turns at El Campo Road, the Laetitia Winery and three other cross-over locations.

In 1998, there were three collisions at the El Campo Road cross-over, Shivers said. In 2008, that number jumped to 10 collisions, including five with injuries. Last year, there were 11 collisions.

Some people raised concerns at the Tuesday meeting about losing access to El Campo Road, Shivers said.

“We understand that there is an inconvenience if we put this median barrier in,” he said. “We’re asking (the public) not only to consider their own inconvenience in having to drive down a few more miles but to understand that everyone would benefit from this project. It’s going to be safer for their co-workers, their customers, their families.”

Shivers said Caltrans will take the comments from the meeting into consideration as the agency works on the design phase of the project.

The public may still submit written comments through April 30 to Caltrans, Attn: Matt Fowler, 50 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, 93401.

-- Cynthia Lambert