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El Camino Real Downtown Safety and Parking Enhancement Project

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ECR DIEP Project Image

35.486267, -120.664896

35.490876, -120.673429

email: theECRproject@atascadero.org

main phone: 805-470-3456

Quick Overview

The project will feature enhanced pedestrian and bicycle access along with increased parking opportunities and safer crosswalks. 

ECR Project Map

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE


Week of 6/17/24-6/21/24:                                

Sewer construction continues on El Camino Real from West Mall to Entrada. Sewer construction prep work will also be happening from Entrada to Rosario Avenue through 6/20.             
                                   
Road remains open in both directions. Access to businesses and driveways remains open. No-park areas will be marked.

 

Week of 6/24/24-6/28/24:                                

Sewer construction continues on El Camino Real from Entrada to Traffic Way.         
                                   
Road remains open in both directions. Access to businesses and driveways remains open. No-park areas will be marked.

 

Construction schedules are subject to change based on staffing, supplies, and weather conditions.            
 

  • Construction hours for this project are Monday-Friday, 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
  • Both northbound and southbound travel on El Camino Real will be maintained for the entirety of the project.
  • To sign up for "Project Alerts" and construction news, visit the News & Alerts page.
  • For questions or concerns regarding this project, please contact us at theECRproject@atascadero.org or (805) 470-3456.

Project Overview

The El Camino Real Downtown Parking and Safety Enhancements Project (The ECR Project) will improve the safety, economic vitality, parking capacity and aesthetics of the El Camino Real downtown corridor between Highway 41 and Rosario Avenue. 

Planned since 2017, the ECR Project is a community-driven initiative developed in partnership with residents, businesses and community stakeholders. We thank the Atascadero community for making their voices heard during the planning process, from outreach events in 2019, to workshops in 2020, to a series of nine “open houses” in 2023.

Once constructed, the ECR Project will deliver the following improvements and benefits to this 0.6-mile stretch of El Camino Real:

  • Limit vehicular traffic on El Camino Real to one lane in each direction in the project area to increase safety, add free parking spaces and improve the Downtown experience
  • Add crosswalks with higher visibility for enhanced pedestrian safety
  • Install a full overhead signalized pedestrian crossing at East Mall to improve safety
  • Create over 100 new free parking spaces, including ADA-accessible spaces
  • Make ADA accessibility improvements, including new driveways and sidewalks 
  • Plant over 25 new street trees, in-ground planters along a center median, potted planters along the sidewalk and storm runoff planters to create shade, improve aesthetics and capture water
  • Install hanging pendant lights and street lights throughout the project area
  • Create designated loading zones for deliveries, drop-offs and pickups

Throughout its development, the ECR Project has been guided by the following key priorities:

  • Community Input: The project is a community-driven initiative shaped by extensive planning and public engagement efforts over seven years to develop a holistic corridor plan that addresses the needs and goals of all multimodal users.
  • Public Safety: Research-backed enhancements will calm traffic, increase visibility for roadway users, bolster walkability and accommodate multi-modal transportation, creating a safer environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.  
  • Economic Revitalization: Over the past five-plus years, Atascadero has experienced significant development downtown, and construction of this project is anticipated to accelerate the growth of the downtown economic district. The project’s improvements will enhance aesthetics and create a safer, easier-to-access area that can help increase foot traffic and business growth.
  • Free Parking Solutions: The project addresses concerns about parking availability by adding 118 new free parking spaces for cars, along with provisions for bicycle and motorcycle parking. This new parking will make it easier for residents and visitors to access downtown amenities, supporting local businesses and enhancing the overall downtown experience.
  • Enhanced Aesthetics: The project will enhance the aesthetics of the downtown area with features like center medians with trees and landscaping, matching gateway arches, and hanging pendant lights. These aesthetic improvements will contribute to creating a more welcoming and attractive downtown environment for residents and visitors.

Construction on the ECR Project started with utility improvements on June 10, 2024, and will be followed by streetscape construction. Work is expected to continue through Summer 2025

Throughout construction, the City will use both in-person and virtual channels to proactively communicate about potential traffic impacts to residents, businesses and schools within the downtown core. Additionally, a construction manager will be onsite at all times to answer questions from the community. Community members can sign up to receive construction news and alerts by visiting Atascadero.org/News-List.

Project Timeline 

Design Development:  

  • December 2017 – November 2021 

Engineering Design:  

  • January 2022 – April 2024

Construction (anticipated):

  • Utility Improvement Phase: June 2024 - Late July 2024
  • Streetscape Improvements Phase: August 2024 - Summer 2025
  • Monument Phase: Summer/Fall 2025 - Spring 2026

Project Cost and Funding Sources:

  • Budget $11,945,000 
  • Funded by:
    • General Fund ($4,695,000)
    • State Legislative Grant: FY 23-25 Budget (Sen. Laird) ($3,000,000)
    • RSHA: Betterment Grants (SLOCOG) ($2,550,000)
    • Wastewater Fund: FY 23-25 Budget and Reserve ($1,120,000)
    • 2010 Bond Master Agreement ($255,000)
    • Local Transportation Fund ($140,000)
    • USHA Funds: FY 23-25 Budget ($100,000)
    • Circulation System Fund ($85,000)                                   

History & Background

The El Camino Real Downtown Traffic Calming and Corridor Plan (Project) is envisioned to be a planning level document that outlines recommendations for future road improvements incorporating enhanced pedestrian and bicycle access along with increased parking opportunities and safer crosswalks. The goal is to enhance economic development in the downtown by creating a zone that slows traffic speeds and enhances appearance and safety. The Project limits include the El Camino Corridor from the intersection of Highway 41 to the intersection of Rosario Avenue.

Over the last several decades, the City has implemented improvements in the downtown, which were identified as part of the Downtown Revitalization Plan, Downtown Design Guidelines, and the City’s Wayfinding Program. Improvements were generally limited to sidewalk widening at corners (bulb-outs), sidewalk enhancements, signage, raised planted medians and crosswalks. Other key facility improvements have also been implemented such as the Sunken Gardens improvements and the Centennial Bridge and Plaza project.

The Traffic Calming Plan takes a closer look at how to best utilize the existing roadway width. El Camino Real in the downtown still maintains its roughly 80-foot width (curb-to-curb) and design features that reflect its past use as a highway. A large component of the plan is the analysis of existing and future traffic operations through the downtown corridor under a “road diet” scenario. By dropping a vehicular lane in both the northbound and southbound directions, it is possible to add enhanced pedestrian and bicycle facilities, additional public spaces, and parking. Given the ongoing development and redevelopment within the downtown area, this project is a timely opportunity to assess how the El Camino Real corridor can best serve the needs of residents, businesses, and the multiple transportation needs.

As noted above, several factors have converged over recent years that warrant a new analysis of downtown area transportation patterns. First, downtown Atascadero is currently experiencing an economic upswing due to City investments and strong interest from private developers and business owners. New restaurants, cafes, and breweries, in conjunction with a growing number of special events, are bringing more visitors to the Downtown area. The Centennial Bridge and Plaza Project is stimulating interest from private developers, resulting in both large and small private projects. Most notable are the La Plaza Mixed-Use and Bridge Walk Hotel developments, as well as the new ownership and use of the previously City-owned annex (Creekside) building. These developments and others will result in an increase in downtown activity, including vehicle trips, pedestrians, cyclists, and other multi-modal methods of transportation.

Secondly, the Atascadero High School (AHS) and the Atascadero Junior High School (AJHS) are located within ¼ mile of the El Camino Real Downtown Corridor. School related traffic is a significant consideration throughout the corridor, particularly during peak hours occurring from drop-off and pick-up times. With additional vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic in the Downtown area, concerns regarding the safety and function of El Camino Real have arisen from residents and business owners, particularly at intersections and existing mid-block crossings. These concerns are likely to increase in the future as complete streets improvements to State Route 41 in 2020, and potential improvements to the Atascadero Avenue and Mall corridor, will likely encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic to be funneled through the US 101 tunnel and elsewhere.

Third, merchants, residents, developers, and City leaders have expressed the need for more parking and pedestrian access within the downtown district due to an increase in economic activity and special events. Limited parking is available on El Camino Real and includes non-metered, parallel on-street parking. A mix of diagonal and parallel parking exists on other Downtown streets adjacent to El Camino Real. Increasing parking opportunities on El Camino Real will be advantageous in furthering the economic goals of the Downtown. Currently, the width and speed of traffic on El Camino Real discourages visitors from using the corridor for parking or walking across El Camino Real to go to a business on the other side of the street.

The overall objective of the project is to develop a holistic traffic calming and corridor plan along the Downtown El Camino Real Corridor that considers the needs and goals of all multimodal users, residents, businesses, and City leaders. The final corridor plan is intended to serve as a blueprint or master plan for future improvements within the El Camino Real right-of-way, which should further the economic goals of the City while enhancing the Downtown Corridor’s safety and aesthetic appearance for all users. Specifically, the City identified the following project objectives:

Provide public safety for all roadway users by incorporating complete streets and “road diet” concepts and principals
Enhance economic development by supporting existing and future merchants with additional parking
Support downtown business synergy through a partnership in crafting a Downtown Traffic Calming Plan
Enhance the streetscape of El Camino Real by creating a sense of place and arrival into the Downtown
Create safe pedestrian connections and crossings while enhancing the walkability of Downtown
Slow vehicular speeds to increase safety and visibility, including an analysis of impacts to level of service (LOS)
Enhance the ability to host more special events in the Downtown area
Accommodate multi-modal transportation, where feasible

KTUA of San Diego was hired in November 2017 to assist the City in the analysis and development of a corridor plan. CCTC of Morro Bay is working as a subconsultant to KTUA to provide traffic engineering and operations analysis. Council awarded the Downtown Traffic Calming project to KTUA in November 2017, and City staff has been working closely with KTUA and CCTC to develop alternatives that meet the objectives listed above, while at the same time balancing impacts to varied roadway users. The City hosted mutiple outreach events in 2019, recieving a lot of feedback from the community. After this feedback from the public and City Council, KTUA returned a revised plan that was once again presented at multiple public workshops in 2020. After compiling all of the feedback recieved , the following concept plan was approved by City Council on August 11, 2020. For more information, please review the staff report published in the August 11, 2020 City Council Agenda.

Jun. 18 6:00pm
Planning Commission | June 18, 2024

Planning Commission

Add to Calendar America/Chicago Planning Commission | June 18, 2024

Regular Session
June 18 | 6:00pm

City Hall Council Chambers
6500 Palma Avenue | Atascadero, CA 93422 


Virtual Meeting Link
Meeting ID: 832 5023 8111
Meeting Phone: 1 (669) 900-6833

Jun. 04 6:00pm
Planning Commission | June 4, 2024

Planning Commission

CANCELLED

Regular Session
June 04 | 6:00pm

City Hall Council Chambers

6500 Palma Avenue | Atascadero, CA 93422 

RELATED DOCUMENTS:
MORE INFO
Jun. 25 6:00pm
City Council | June 25, 2024

City Council

Add to Calendar America/Chicago City Council | June 25, 2024

Regular Session
June 25 | 6:00pm

City Hall Council Chambers & Teleconference

6500 Palma Avenue | Atascadero, CA 93422 

Meeting ID: 889 2347 9018
Phone: (669) 900-6833

RELATED DOCUMENTS:
MORE INFO
Jun. 11 6:00pm
City Council | June 11, 2024

City Council

Closed Session
June 11 | 5:30pm

Add to Calendar America/Chicago City Council | June 11, 2024

Regular Session
June 11 | 6:00pm

City Hall Council Chambers & Teleconference

6500 Palma Avenue | Atascadero, CA 93422 

Meeting ID: 889 2347 9018
Phone: (669) 900-6833