Willow Road needs money

The Willow Road extension and interchange with Highway 101 in Nipomo will need county money moved around to stay on track, the Board of Supervisors is to be told today.

The county Public Works Department will ask supervisors to shift dollars from other projects to continue the Willow Road project’s second phase — the section of Willow from Hetrick Avenue to Highway 101 and the freeway interchange about 2-1⁄2 miles north of Tefft Street.

“Existing established funding is insufficient,” project manager Dale Ramey wrote in a staff report.

The Willow Road extension and interchange project has been in the works for 20 years and is divided into four parts:

• Phase I, between Hetrick Avenue and Pomeroy Road. Work is under way there.

• Phase IIA, Hetrick Avenue to the freeway, including the interchange.

• Phase IIB, from the interchange, about a half-mile east to Thompson Avenue.

That part “is not fundable based on existing cost estimates,” Ramey wrote, although “it may be possible, depending on actual construction bids.”

• Phase III, frontage roads, “is not fundable in the foreseeable future.”

When they are completed, the Willow Road projects are expected to change the nature of the Nipomo Mesa and South County.

They would:

• Open a straight route to Highway 1 and the coast from Highway 101;

• Create a direct route to Highway 101 for residents of the new housing developments on the Mesa, such as Trilogy, Woodlands and the Oaks;

• Provide better access to the freeway for students and employees at Nipomo High School; and, perhaps most importantly,

• Take pressure off the Tefft Street interchange, widely considered one of the most congested and poorly planned in the county.

Ramey will report on all the phases of the Willow Road project and suggest ways to pay for its various segments.One of his suggestions is to take money currently ticketed for two South County projects — Los Berros Road at Dale Avenue channelization and widening Orchard Road south of Southland Road — and use it for Willow Road.