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Improvements coming to several SLO pedestrian crossings

Design proposal for Johnson/Sydney crossing
City of San Luis Obispo
Design proposal for Johnson/Sydney crossing

There’s construction planned in San Luis Obispo right now on five pedestrian crossings meant to prioritize safety.

At the city’s Active Transportation Meeting March 17, staff presented safety and design improvements for the intersections of Johnson and Sydney, South and King, Islay and Broad, Islay and Osos and the King Cul-de-Sac Bike Ramp.

Most of the intersection projects involve installing high-visibility crosswalks, solar-powered beacon systems, green bike crossing markings and advanced warning and yield signage.

The intersection project requiring the most development is a school crossing for Sinsheimer Elementary School at Johnson and Sydney Streets.

The existing crosswalk lacks ADA curb ramps and city staff say the flashing yellow beacon system there is overdue for an upgrade.

Justin Wong is a transportation planner engineer with the San Luis Obispo Public Works Department. He said the crosswalk is not as effective as it could be in getting drivers to yield to pedestrians.

“Overall it’s a pretty sketchy crossing with a four-lane arterial street where you can pretty often observe vehicles going upwards of 40 miles an hour,” Wong said.

An initial proposal to upgrade the intersection included a raised pedestrian island in the crosswalk that would require a closure of the existing northbound left-turn lane. But Wong said the latest design will keep that turning lane.

“We received feedback from the neighborhood expressing concern about the closure of this left turn lane so we revised today’s design to reflect the suggestions from the neighborhood,” Wong said.

The phased project will take place over the next two years. It will include a lot of the same upgrades that the other crosswalks will see.

Wong said the city plans to change the lane configuration around the intersection from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction.

“What this would do is it would help us create space for a center median that we can use to put a third beacon in the roadway for added visibility at the crosswalk,” Wong said.

A continuous center turn lane and buffered bike lanes will also be added near the intersection.

Wong said the city may also decide to install a traffic signal or pedestrian hybrid beacon in a later phase of the project. He said more detailed planning will take place later in 2022 and will include opportunities for public input.

All of the updates to these intersections are expected to cost about $600,000.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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