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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 1st, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 34

Willow Road interchange is open for business

BY MATT FOUNTAIN

It’s been an infrastructure improvement project 30 years in the making, but when the ribbon was cut for the U.S. Highway 101/Willow Road interchange in Nipomo on Oct. 26, one state legislator pivotal to the project compared the opening to the birth of his eldest child.

Crews broke ground on the final phase of the project in April 2011, completing an extension of the heavily frequented Willow Road from Hetrick Avenue to Thompson Avenue, as well as a new interchange with Highway 101.

Following the bridge’s public grand opening, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors sealed the deal and unanimously approved a resolution accepting the new portion of Willow Road into the county’s maintained road system.

The new development extends the county’s road system by roughly 1.3 miles. According to county staff, the additional roads are expected to increase annual road maintenance costs by about $30,700, based on the current average of cost per mile.

The interchange has long been a major project for state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo), who was fundamental in securing various sources of funding—including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies, among other sources—as well as courting property owners for acquisition of necessary right-of-ways. Achadjian served as the district’s county supervisor when the project got the original go-ahead.

Officials have long touted the project as a means to relieve traffic congestion and improve emergency services response times, as well as a monumental first step in attracting economic growth necessary for an eventual incorporation.

Chuck Stevenson, long-range planning manager for the county’s Department of Planning and Building, previously told the Sun that the new interchange will relieve traffic back-up at the Tefft Street interchange, which has been the only highway interchange in the community of roughly 14,000 people.

One last action to be taken on the project is an upcoming transfer of right-of-way from the county to the state at the 101 interchange, which is expected to occur later this year, according to a county staff report.