Funding set for Hwy. 46 project

The state has allocated $55.9 million for the second phase of work to widen Highway 46 East in the Whitley Gardens area of Paso Robles.

The two-part project is aimed at increasing safety on a road some have dubbed “Blood Alley” for the many deadly crashes it has seen.

The second phase, which will widen the highway from Geneseo Road to Almond Drive, will create more than 1,000 construction jobs, officials announced this week.

The funding comes from Proposition 1B, a $20 billion transportation bond measure approved by voters in November 2006.

A contractor hasn’t been lined up for the second phase, Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said, but Caltrans expects to seek bids for the work later this year.

The project is now nearing the end of its $30 million first phase, which began in spring 2008.

The contractor for the first phase is Papich Construction of Pismo Beach. Its work to widen the highway between Airport and Geneseo roads is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Work on phase two will follow immediately after.

“The intent is to keep the safety improvements continuing,” Shivers said.

The widening project has been undertaken for San Luis Obispo County’s stretch of Highway 46 because of the high number of fatal accidents it has seen.

Twenty-one people were killed and 65 more were injured in nearly 40 wrecks on a particularly dangerous span between 1993 and 1995.