For the parents of computer science freshman Jordan Grant, recommendations made during the Wednesday, April 3 San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) board meeting meant victory in their battle to close the crossing at El Campo Road and prevent any further deaths where their son was killed.
The board voted to recommend eliminating left hand turns across Highway 101 between Traffic Way and Los Berros Road. The median will be blocked so vehicles will not be able to cut across southbound lanes.
It will take several months to complete the closures and the exact timeline is unknown, according to Caltrans.
“Today with this vote, you have the choice of getting out of the next car that will assault innocent drivers on 101 at this crossing,” Jordan’s father James Grant said in a public comment during the meeting. “Today with this vote, you can save the next Jordan.”
While the elimination of left hand turns was passed, the Grant family is now advocating for building a safe acceleration lane with guard rails for right hand turns. The number of right turns will increase with the changes, according to the study completed by SLOCOG staff.
SLOCOG’s report shows potential alternate routes adding between two and six minutes of drive time for commuters who frequently used the crossings.
“All of the rerouted traffic from all the different closure scenarios would add anywhere between 1,200 to 2,500 vehicle miles traveled daily,” SLOCOG Transportation Planner Stephen Hanamaikai said.
Public support for closing the crossings was overwhelming. Out of 1,946 public comments submitted, only three opposed the partial restrictions.
A letter will be submitted to Caltrans on April 23 supporting the findings of SLOCOG’s study as well as an action plan.
Wednesday’s votes comes after a 2009 Caltrans traffic study found that the median closure would “reduce the number of broadside collisions” at the El Campo intersection with minimal traffic impacts. However, public opposition at the time left the crossing open.
On October 7, 2018, Jordan was traveling south on Highway 101 to watch a launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base when a driver crossing at El Campo Road hit his motorcycle. Since then, his parents have been fighting to close the crossings.
The family, who lives in Texas, started a petition that has received more than 27,000 signatures and have rallied the community to support their cause.
After the median is blocked, James said their next step is to challenge the local community to accelerate the planning of an overpass at El Campo Road. The family is committing as much as $100,000 to planning the project, as long as local landowners will join them.
“At this point, we got what we wanted. We don’t want any any more Cal Poly students to get hurt at any of those crossings,” James said. “I think it will continue to honor Jordan to support the community that embraced us.”
Caltrans indicated an interchange likely will not happen for a additional 11-25 years.
In the event an overpass is built, James said a local landowner suggested it be named in memory of Jordan.