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Atascadero City Council greenlights long-awaited downtown enhancement project

Courtesy of the City of Atascadero.
Image of one design from the El Camino Real Downtown Traffic Calming and Corridor Plan.

After years of planning, the Atascadero City Council has finally given the green light to a project that will bring major upgrades to the downtown area.

On Tuesday the unanimously approved the El Camino Real Downtown Traffic Calming and Corridor Plan. It aims to bring improvements including new crosswalks and additional parking spaces to Downtown Atascadero.

Phil Dunsmore is the city’s Community Development Director. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, he said the council’s approval is a huge milestone for the project.

“Tonight is the fruition of years of planning, and engineering, and public feedback,” Dunsmore said.

The planned enhancements will cover areas from the city’s El Camino Corridor, stretching from the intersection of Highway 41 to the intersection of Rosario Avenue. That’s the downtown core of the City which includes the City Hall building, Sunken Gardens and upscale restaurants.

Public Works Director Nick DeBar said the project could cost around $8 million, but it’s also expected to bring long-term benefits to Atascadero’s economy.

“Economic development, supporting the businesses downtown, adding parking, enhancing bicycle and pedestrian access,” DeBar said.

The city will build over 100 new parking spots, along with more spots for bikes and motorcycles. There will also be decorative crosswalks with pedestrian signals and gateway arches at both ends of downtown.

The city will also install hanging lights and will add greenery to the area by planting over 50 trees in the median and sidewalk.

City Councilmember Susan Funk said the community contributed important ideas throughout the process.

“People should know that public comments made a difference in the design,” Funk said. “Everything from the folks whose comments in the earlier rounds about traffic situations caused greater involvement of a traffic engineer in the project, to the fifth graders who told us not to do bike lockers.”

While an exact date hasn't been set, the City’s Public Works Department aims to have final construction plans ready for bidding by June 2024.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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