KCBX News' Central Coast Curious is an ongoing series for which we invite listeners to ask questions and the newsroom reports back with answers. Since we launched the series last year, we've received several questions asking, "when will the Bob Jones Trail extension be built?"
The Bob Jones City to the Sea Trail is a paved pathway winding roughly 2.5 miles from Ontario Road, just off Highway 101, to Avila Beach. Another portion of the Bob Jones Trail runs from Prado Road to Los Osos Valley Road. For years, plans have been in the works for one continuous trail to eventually connect Avila Beach all the way into the city of San Luis Obispo, and out to Montaña de Oro State Park. KCBX News reporter Tyler Pratt spoke with Shaun Cooper, senior planner with the San Luis Obispo County Parks Department, to learn more.
TYLER PRATT, KCBX NEWS: So I gotta ask, who is Bob Jones?
SHAUN COOPER: Bob Jones was an environmental activist in the county, [who died in the 1990s]. He was the president of the Land Conservancy and he had a mission to protect the San Luis Obispo Creek corridor. The full Bob Jones pathway will honor Bob Jones, whose vision was to listen to and encourage others to protect the environment and San Luis Obispo Creek.
PRATT: When was the trail imagined and when was it built?
COOPER: The initial plans for the Bob Jones pathway started back in the 1980s, and the first portion of pathway was actually built in the early 1990s by San Luis Bay Estates, in 1993. That was the first piece of the trail that was built. It was a condition of that development and was dedicated to the county. Since then, the county has been working on plans to expand the length of that pathway all the way into San Luis Obispo. The City of San Luis Obispo has also been working on plans and has built sections of the pathway that will connect from the City of San Luis Obispo to the Avila Beach pathway.
PRATT: Set the scene of the trail for us. What’s it like?
COOPER: The Bob Jones pathway is a class one pathway, which means it's separated from the road. It's an eight-foot-wide paved pathway that is usable for recreation users on bicycles, people walking, people on roller skates, and people with baby joggers. It's a multi-use, family-oriented pathway for recreation. It's scenic along the San Luis Obispo Creek corridor and it goes from Ontario Road staging area all the way down to Avila Beach.
PRATT: When will the extension be constructed?
COOPER: The county is working on the segment of the Bob Jones pathway that will connect Ontario Road to the Octagon Barn, and that's about a four-and-a-half-mile stretch. We are currently working on the construction documents, which will be the plans and specifications for that segment of pathway. We have funding for about 65 percent of the construction [plan], and we are continually looking for grant funding for the construction of the pathway. We don't have construction money identified, but as we move through the construction document phase, we apply for grant funding for the future construction of that pathway.
PRATT: When do you imagine getting construction started?
COOPER: It's hard to tell when construction would begin. It will be several years out before that section of pathway is constructed. But it continues to be a high priority for the county, and we continue to strive towards meeting the goal of actually building that pathway.
UPDATE April 9, 2019: KCBX News followed up in an email with Cooper, who added, "the county has not yet begun the trail easement acquisition process. This process will begin once the 65% construction documents are completed, which will likely be in the first part of 2020. The county supervisors have allocated approximately $1.5 million to the extension project (portion between Ontario Rd. staging area and Octagon Barn). This funding was for preliminary design, environmental documents, and construction document preparation."
KCBX News welcomes Central Coast Curious questions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.