Arroyo Grande interchange study makes sense
September 29, 2015
OPINION by JIM GUTHRIE and JIM HILL
Over the next few months the City Arroyo Grande will be making one of the most important decisions about the future of our city. Our decision on a solution for the Brisco/Halcyon congestion will have a significant impact on the current and future quality of life in our community.
For the last 15 plus years, we have been developing and reviewing the options. Of the two “build” options, number one would close the north-bound on and off ramps (on the east side of the freeway) with no replacement.
That is similar to the temporary closure model, but the build would also significantly improve the overpass and ramps at Grand Avenue by widening that bridge, adding an extra lane to the north-bound off ramp and left turn lane, as well as aligning the south-bound ramps. At the Camino Mercado ramps, extra width and lanes would be added as well.
The second option, called 4C, would close the existing north-bound ramps at Brisco Road and build new ones at Rodeo Drive. The new ramps would go into a large roundabout at Branch Street and Rodeo Drive at a lower elevation than present, realigning Branch Street away from Highway 101 into the roundabout and taking out some of the regional center parking and an associated structure.
On Highway 101, there would be an extra lane from the Grand Avenue on-ramp to the new Rodeo Drive exit, and the new Rodeo Drive on-ramp would go over Brisco Road on a widened extension of the bridge. The intersection of Rodeo Drive and Grace Lane would also be realigned.
The primary discussion has been the potential impact to the immediate neighborhood, and Cal Trans concerns about multiple closely spaced ramps on Highway 101.
There are at least equally important considerations about expense and economic development impacts that need to be considered.
In an effort to make the most informed decision possible, we have embarked on an extensive traffic study to determine how the closure of the north-bound Brisco Road on and off ramps will affect the alternative access points at Grand Avenue, Camino Mercado, and Oak Park Boulevard freeway access points, and the interconnecting city streets.
There are some, including the Tribune, who think that the $100,000 we are spending on this study is a waste of taxpayers money.
Considering that we could be spending somewhere north of $20 million on one of the alternatives, we are certain the investment will pay significant dividends. The primary expense and difference between this and a previous study is the data collection over a larger area and over a longer period of time. This will give us a more accurate picture of the traffic displacement caused by the closure, and with the additional time, give a more accurate impression how traffic patterns will ultimately play out.
We recognize that the study will have a significant effect on some users of the interchange, although based on the closure in 2007, we may see a net improvement for most users of the interchange.
Data collection is the primary purpose of the study but the real time experience of the actual users is equally valuable. We are setting up an easy way to provide your feedback after you have actually experienced the closure with a simple email email@example.com.
We ask your patience during this study and look forward to your input in helping us make this important decision.
Jim Hill is the mayor and Jim Guthrie is a councilman of Arroyo Grande.