Arroyo Grande delays plan to dump Brisco Road project

April 27, 2022


The Arroyo Grande City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to make one more attempt to get funding for the now $32.1 million Brisco Road interchange project, with Mayor Caren Ray Russom dissenting.

Unable to afford the escalating price tag for the project, the council considered scraping the project and shifting its financial resources to other priorities such as street and sidewalk maintenance and repair. After learning there may be additional grant funding available through Caltrans, Council members Jimmy Paulding, Kristin Barneich, Lan George and Keith Storton voted to apply for another grant and pause plans to dump the project.

Barneich said she was prepared to kill the project, but agreed to give it one last chance.

“Brisco is not dead yet, it rises from the ashes,” Barneich said. “It is a problem, but how much of a problem today.”

The lone no vote, Ray Russom, said the project was too expensive and that Caltrans grant money is still taxpayer money.

“I can’t ethically go forward using taxpayer money to fund this,” Ray Russon said. “This is going to die.”

For over 17 years, Arroyo Grande officials have perused road realignment plans to alleviate traffic at busy Highway 101 interchanges. Eighteen proposed alternatives were considered through numerous studies, at a cost of approximately $3.6 million.

In March 2019, the council approved a project that consists of moving the Brisco Road on and off-ramps to West Branch Street and Rodeo Drive, close to the South County Regional Center, where a large roundabout is to be constructed. Plans also call for intersection improvements at Grace Lane and Rodeo Drive. At that time, total project costs were estimated at $22.7 million.

If the city council had voted to cancel the project, it would have lost $6.6 million in funds granted for the project through the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments.

If the city is unable to procure the entire $32.1 million currently needed to move forward with the project, the council members voiced plans to look at cheaper alternatives.

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When the Walmart and other development was done in that center part of that project’s cost should have been to address the added traffic impact at that interchange.

City officials bent over backwards for Walmart back then and gave them anything they wanted, Mayor Ferraro?, to get the tax dollars, otherwise Walmart would have built in Pismo Beach city limits. They never would have required Walmart to address traffic impact.

Politicians are the worst.

Closing the on and off ramps at Brisco is the most effective solution for the money, proven by the two trials that were done. Residents have been putting up with the traffic because the Council wants a more expensive, more elegant solution. First it was 14 million, then 22 million, now 32 million. Are they hoping to get some Biden Dollars? With inflation what it is, the cost will be 40 million by the time they come to a decision.

The “leaders” of bankrupt AG have almost made a decision…. but not quite yet. Little Jimmy is too busy hanging his signs EVERYWHERE to actually commit to a definitive decision regarding an issue for the citizens the he “represents”.

Does anyone that lives in AG trust these goofs to actually do the RIGHT thing and kill this.

What exactly does Ray think tax money is for if not to fix roads and bridges? SMH

She may be referring to the millions of dollars the ratepayers of AG have paid over two decades for NOTHING. This project is no closer to reality than it was 20 years ago, yet the city council insists on throwing more money at a runaway train.

Two traffic studies with surveys of residents both showed the simplest and least expensive option not only alleviated traffic issues, but was the overwhelming preferred option of ratepayers. In spite of this the council pushed forward with spending money the city did and still does not have. Now, they’re having to face the results of inflation, skyrocketing costs, and an upcoming election. Let’s hope this results in a decision to do what voters wanted all along.

You know how many signs and lights can be put up for less than a quarter of that cost? Direct traffic. It’s not that complicated.

If it wasn’t an election year this project would be full steam ahead, but with one council member trying to redo his image and wanting to be a supervisor, not surprised. After the election this project will be back.

It’s LONG TIME COMING to say goodbye to this project. The peoples voice has continued to be ignored. Caren is up for re-election so a no vote from her is no surprise. Jimmy Paulding has no problem throwing your hard earned tax dollars away remember that when you vote for Supervisor this November. Arroyo Grande needs a more conservative City Council let’s remember this as well. Many of our citizens are feeling the affects of Liberal policies and are running for different offices, let’s support them, let’s get engaged in our local government.

Sad to only see things thru the lens of conservative or liberal instead of what is good for the city or bad for the city.