Residents reject advice to fix El Campo crossing, demand overpass

April 2, 2019

Victor Lund

OPINION by VICTOR LUND

Highway 101 in southern San Luis Obispo County is flooded with traffic. Residents claim that San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG ) has failed to meet the obligation of pooling together the resources of San Luis Obispo County, CalTrans, and local cities to make the necessary improvements to handle growth. This failure has resulted in a dramatic increase in traffic accidents, caused countless lifelong injuries, and contributed to the the death of Cal Poly student, Jordan Grant.

The family of Jordan Grant has appealed to SLOCOG to close the dangerous intersection at El Campo Road and Highway 101 to improve safety. Jordan was struck while traveling southbound on Highway 101 at the El Campo crossing. The driver causing the accident did not see Jordan.

In response to the accident, SLOCOG commissioned a study to review many alternatives to improving safety at the intersection. SLOCOG published the results of that study and proposed closing three highway 101 crossings – El Campo, Laetitia Winery, and another unnamed crossing. South County residents are rejecting the proposal to SLOCOG citing non-compliance with the requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

California has laws in place that require environmental studies when there are changes in the community that impact the system of roads. SLOCOG is in violation of this law if they proceed with this partial closing. The ad hoc study of impacts was limited to signaled intersections and only during 15-minute intervals during a small window of the day. Moreover, the study does not analyze the impact to evacuation routes in the event of a fire or Diablo Canyon emergencies.

Residents want the two-lane overpass that has been planned for 20 years

The dangers of these crossings are not at issue here. There is agreement that something needs to be done. The concern is that SLOCOG has had designs for an overpass near the current El Campo road crossing since it was added to the long-range plan in 1999 and adopted in 2000.

Residents see this latest effort to partially close the intersections as a Band-Aid to a systemic problem that will not cure the dangers around the system of roads that support the community. The state, county, and local communities have been collecting revenue to fund the long range plan for years, but they have failed to follow the plan.

Closing the crossings on Highway 101 will create greater congestion on roads that the report indicates are already over capacity. These roads include the primary streets around the Arroyo Grande High School, Arroyo Grande Hospital, and the Highway 101 entrances at Grand Avenue and Brisco Road.

Based upon data from the study, the proposed partial closure will also have a significant environmental impact from exhaust by producing nearly 9 million additional miles of travel a year. Based upon the IRS mileage allowance of $0.545 per mile, residents will incur $4 million in additional travel expenses equating to $8,640 per household.

SLOCOG is in the process of allocating over $22 million to make improvements to Brisco road, which is necessary to resolve congestion. But residents believe that the prioritization is wrong. Nobody has lost their life or had a severe injury at Brisco Road.

Residents want to SLOCOG to move forward immediately to resolve the crossing at El Campo road that is costing people’s lives. Fifteen thousand area residents have signed a petition on Change.org. Hopefully SLOCOG will do what is right, not what is expedient.


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Nightrider

Another example of how Badly Government really is,

We the people asked for closing ONE FREAKING intersection!

The Stupid heads of state are going to close Four including one that is going to impact a great Employer,

This is why people like me are going berserk,

The word’s, I am from the Government and I am here to help are insane,

Close one intersection to cross traffic and save the Damn money.


obispan

There is no way an overpass will be built. Overpasses are too expensive. The Falcon Ridge developer was allowed to build without regard to traffic impacts and now we must deal with it. Close El Campo, 101 is now way too busy for any uncontrolled intersections. Sure traffic will be worse on Brisco, but it is already getting worse and the Falcon Ridge traffic is an insignificant part of that increase. They want use to pay so as to not inconvenience the Falcon Ridge BMW driver who impatiently pulled out in front of Jordan Grant. Nobody died sitting in traffic. I sit in traffic all the time, 10 years ago I never did. Traffic will be worse everywhere as developers do not pay fees for full impacts in the name of “affordable housing”, rather than the more accurate “profit margins”. New houses will sell for market rate, period, regardless of impact fees. Lessening legitimate impact fees does not make housing cheaper.


Jordan Grants dad

Victor, check the 15,000 signing the petition reference as I think it should be 1,500 and should be corrected.

But to your point if 15,000 residents are asking for an overpass this is strong evidence of demand for this overpass route. Could we start a pledge drive to see how many of these residents would commit to a pledge of $500 if an overpass is planned and built in the short term? $500 x 1,500 is $750,000

I can contribute $100,000

Anthony will contribute $300,000 of land

Land developers can contribute $ per house or acreage

I think we need to start to build the elements of a public/private partnership model to make this actually happen.


ffarmchicken

Just close the damn road. No need to spend millions of tax payer money to benefit the few.


Noodly Appendages

This is called ‘lying’, when a person intentionally makes a misleading statement with the bold and caps lock on.

“Residents want the two-lane overpass that has been planned for 20 years”

I don’t need to say something like EVERBODY AGREES ON NOTHING. EVER. Residents who want to build out south county want an overpass. Residents that agree with me (and actually live in South Arroyo Grande) just don’t turn left there anyway and wish you’d just put up signs for the selfish who still try to turn left, either onto or off of El Campo. Your use of prevarication makes anything you say suspect.


AGlife

Just want a correction noted. SLOCOG, is not allocating 22million to Brisco Rd, their portion is now 6.6million. The city of AG, has to come up with the rest.


rukidding

Maybe this might help people understand 2 really basic things.

1.SLOCOG is an organization in itself that rewards itself very lucratively financially and achieves very little for the responsibilities that it is supposed to have.

2.Maybe now more people, the money makers, will see that you just can’t open the doors to the party and invite everyone. Once you hit capacity bad things start to happen ie: like the fwys. in LA that have turned into moving parking lots.

Could go on and on but we’ll see?


slomark

Something seems wrong in the author’s conclusion: “Based upon the IRS mileage allowance of $0.545 per mile, residents will incur $4 million in additional travel expenses equating to $8,640 per household.”


So, if I did live in AG, and I was a typical family, he’s saying that I will spend what comes out to an extra $23 a day in automotive/gasoline costs. That seems unrealistically high. Every family would have to traverse the affected streets more than once a day.


What am I missing?


Jordan Grants dad

I agree the math may have errors but the concept of pricing this hidden cost is valid. I estimate the partial closure will cause midpoint 2,000 miles per day in reroutes with the bigger number being rerouted from people who have self regulated already by choosing to not use this dangerous crossing (maybe another 4,000 to 8,000 reroute miles per day). So if you price that out you have ~ $3k to $6k a day in hidden costs to the community. So annually that’s approximately $1 million to $2 million. In 5 years the community will pay this hidden tax of $5 to $10 million. So as Jordan’s dad we are thrilled that the partial closure will happen immediately we also believe there is a strong immediate justification for an overpass built now (means with 5 years). We will continue to support Victor and others to make the case for an overpass.