Highway 46 bid under budget

Bids for the second phase of work to widen Highway 46 East in the Whitley Gardens area of Paso Robles came in under budget, officials announced this month.

The project is now nearing the end of its $30 million first phase, which began in spring 2008. The second phase is slated to begin in February, as the first phase comes to a close.

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.

Caltrans will keep the same contractor for the second phase. Papich Construction of Pismo Beach bid $46.6 million for the second phase, about 8.5 percent below Caltrans’ cost estimate of $51 million. The state allocated $55.9 million to the project last spring.

The second phase is slated to create more than 1,000 construction jobs to widen the highway from Geneseo Road to Almond Drive. The first phase is widening the highway between Airport and Geneseo roads.

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

Twenty-one people were killed and 65 more were injured in nearly 40 wrecks on a particularly dangerous stretch between 1993 and 1995 on San Luis Obispo County’s portion of Highway 46.