Permitting waived for Morro Bay path and bridge

Construction on a trail and bridge that will connect North Morro Bay to the downtown Embarcadero can proceed after the Coastal Commission waived permitting last week. 

The Morro Bay City Council approved the project with a 4-1 vote in January, and the Coastal Commission advanced it without discussion at its public hearing Thursday in Inverness. 

“I can’t stress enough the importance of the Coastal Commission waiving the permitting on this project,” Mayor Jamie Irons said. “This reflects a good relationship we currently have with the Coastal Commission that will help the city of Morro Bay move forward on other projects.”

The pathway — consisting of a 1,500-foot-long walkway and 2,200-foot-long bike path — would extend the Morro Bay Harbor Walk that was completed in 2008 so it continues up a dirt portion of Embarcadero Road north of the power plant, across Morro Creek to Atascadero Road.  

The bridge will be 130 feet long and 121⁄2 feet wide, taking the pathway over Morro Creek so residents no longer have to walk or ride through the creek to get to the other side. 

The project also will have bike parking, interpretive signage, seating and low-level, shielded lighting. 

The project’s estimated cost is about $1.8 million. The city has secured more than $1 million in federal, state and local grants, Irons said. 

The federal National Scenic Byways Program has committed $220,000, Caltrans Regional Surface Transportation Program is providing $628,000, and San Luis Obispo Council of Governments will allocate $288,000. 

The city is considering looking into more grants and possibly using Measure Q funds — a half-percent sales tax increase approved in 2006 for general fund expenses.

The city soon will be sending out requests for proposals to contract for the project’s construction. 

City officials hope that work can start by September and take five months to complete. That time frame will depend on how quickly the grants come through, said city public services director Rob Livick.