County supervisors on Tuesday approved an environmental report for a new recreational trail connecting Morro Bay and Cayucos.
The trail is far from a reality with no funding for construction in hand and more design and permitting work to be done, said Elizabeth Kavanaugh, county parks planner for the project. Planners will now start laying out the path’s exact route with preference given to the ocean side of the highway for maximum user enjoyment.
Public concerns about the project center on traffic and parking issues along Studio Drive, a busy beachfront street between Morro Bay and Cayucos. These are not considered major impacts because 190 parking spaces are available along the trail, which is expected to generate 50 to 100 additional car trips a day, Kavanaugh said.
The path would extend from Cloisters Park in Morro Bay to Norma Rose Park in Cayucos — about three miles. The most important segment will be a new path, for pedestrians and cyclists, through an undeveloped stretch where cyclists must now ride along the highway.
The biggest environmental impact will be the installation of barriers to separate traffic on Highway 1 from the bike trail. Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, who is also a state coastal commissioner, recommended designing the barriers with gaps and other features that reduce their visual impacts and increase the likelihood of Coastal Commission approval.
Once the project’s design is complete, planners will seek grants through the Federal Highway Administration to pay for construction. A cost estimate is not yet available.
So far, the project has cost $217,808, most of it coming from a National Scenic Byway grant.