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100 trees will be cut as work starts Monday to widen Los Osos Valley Road

About 100 trees will be removed on Los Osos Valley Road near the ramps to Highway 101 to make way for the new interchange.
About 100 trees will be removed on Los Osos Valley Road near the ramps to Highway 101 to make way for the new interchange. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The long-awaited work to improve the Los Osos Valley Road/Highway 101 interchange will begin Monday with the chopping down of about 100 trees.

The entire project, which will cost an estimated $33 million, will widen Los Osos Valley Road to four lanes between the Calle Joaquin intersection and South Higuera Street. The work includes widening the highway overpass by building a new two-lane bridge in addition to the existing bridge.

Most of the trees that will be removed are invasive species, said project manager Jason Bennecke. However, some are native to the area. For each native tree cut down, one will be replanted in the area and another at nearby Johnson Ranch, he said.

Construction of the bridge over Highway 101 will begin in November but significant traffic delays are not anticipated until August when traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction while work is done on the bridge.

A plan to fix the bottleneck has been in the works since 2001. It has involved lengthy discussions with Caltrans, settling lawsuits filed by nearby residents and acquiring the land to make it all work.

The new two-lane bridge will be built south of the existing Highway 101 over-crossing. Once work is completed, westbound traffic will travel on the existing bridge and eastbound traffic will be routed to the new bridge.

Other improvements, such as widened sidewalks and bike lanes, will also be included. The three-lane Los Osos Valley Road interchange was built in 1962. The area is now notorious for traffic jams.

The project will take 18 months to complete with the anticipated completion in the summer of 2016.

Drivers can get updates on the project at www.lovr101.org or by calling 511, the SLOCOG traffic information line where updates will be made daily.

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