About the Colony

Roundabout, biking upgrades planned near Atascadero High School

The city of Atascadero is considering adding upgrades to the Highway 41 (also known as Morro Road in town) corridor between El Camino and San Gabriel. This view is at the intersection with Santa Rosa Road.
The city of Atascadero is considering adding upgrades to the Highway 41 (also known as Morro Road in town) corridor between El Camino and San Gabriel. This view is at the intersection with Santa Rosa Road. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Those of you who drive the section of Morro Road between Highway 101 and San Gabriel Avenue have no doubt observed the army of surveyors on both sides of the road the past few days. Officially, this stretch of roadway is State Route 41, which goes from the entrance to Yosemite to the Pacific Ocean in Morro Bay.

Historically, longtime residents have referred to the area from the freeway west to the lake as “Morro Flats.” This stretch of the road flooded with each rainy season. Caltrans raised the roadbed about 4 feet in the early 1960s and lined each side of the road with open trenches to carry away floodwaters. Many of those ditches have been converted to closed pipes on developed property. You can see the open pipes where each trench stops and begins on the undeveloped parcels.

Now a major redo of the Highway 41 corridor is in the near future to include separated bike lanes, center turn lanes and maybe restrictions to off-site parking in certain areas.

Because engineers determined there isn’t enough space beneath the large bridge over Morro Road at El Camino Real, the bike lanes will make a turn at Atascadero Avenue and cut over to the area below the high school and terminate at the pedestrian tunnel.

I have written about this area in the past, expressing my concern that there are no safe ways to cross the street. You have vehicular traffic from the Atascadero Bible Church, North County Christian School, Atascadero High School, the high school’s parking lot and those entering and exiting the homeless facility.

Mothers pushing strollers have to negotiate cars making a turn onto Atascadero Avenue. Pedestrians also encounter at giant tree that grows in the middle of the sidewalk.

Nick deBar, the city’s public works director, says that major improvements for bike riders, pedestrians and drivers aren’t far way. The city wants a way for people to ride bikes from Atascadero Lake to the downtown. With the jog at Atascadero Avenue over to the mall below the high school, pedestrians and bike riders will end up downtown via the old concrete tunnel built beneath the freeway in 1954.

At the base of the high school, the plan calls for a roundabout. It will be interesting to see that work in such a very congested area.

Funding could be available as early as next year.

This will be a fun one to watch, because I live just around the corner from it all.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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