Since the 1960s, two-lane Highway 41 has run through the center of Shandon as Centre Street.
Some residents of the small North County community have long worried about the speeding traffic it brings past the church, shops, the local park and post office. They have long wanted stop signs and more than one crosswalk.
“I would say that if not daily, at least weekly, I see near misses,” said Terry Hanauer, a Shandon Advisory Council member and pastor of the Methodist church on Centre Street.
“Every time you hear those screech of tires, you’re just praying that nobody is going to get hurt.”
But change might someday come. The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission unanimously agreed Thursday to support moving the state highway off the main drag through Shandon and re-routing it north to Highway 46.
That would take away state control of Centre Street and give jurisdiction to the county. The cost for the county to operate and maintain the road has not yet been disclosed.
Greater local control of speed limits, the addition of stop signs and crosswalks and flexibility for on-street parking are among the positives, according to the county.
County planners are also plotting the area’s future growth and officials say the corridor needs the local oversight to fit in with its plans. Allowing truck drivers a more direct route to Highway 46 is also touted as a plus.
Highway 41 begins in Morro Bay and continues northeast into Madera County and then into Yosemite National Park.
On Shandon’s stretch, speeds descend from the standard 55 mph to 45 mph and 35 mph at various points, according to Caltrans.
When children are present, drivers are advised to slow to 25 mph.
If the county gained control, planners would make the speed limit 25 mph in the central business district on Centre Street.
The county Board of Supervisors will have to OK the plan before it goes to the California Transportation Commission for final say. The supervisors’ meeting is planned for May. The Shandon Advisory Council and Caltrans officials say they are OK with the transfer.
The jurisdiction change could also lead to adding pedestrian access over San Juan Creek, a sticking point to those who live there.
As it is now, children and other pedestrians can’t safely cross from the east side of town to the west without a car.
The county had previously sought improvements from Caltrans to add a walkway over the bridge, but the state ranked the project low on its scale for funding, according to the county Public Works Department.
If the county had control, crews may be able to make the bridge crossing happen. Those plans are still in the works.