Emilie Johnson | Mustang News

The Railroad Safety Trail project completed a section of a bridge connecting Phillips Lane and Pepper Street on Oct. 28, marking progress on a two-decade project of climate action. 

After some delays in the shipping, the pedestrian-bicycle bridge was installed on Oct. 23 and will be open to the public in January 2022.

With there being  a history of accidents and other concerns associated with the intersection at California Boulevard and Taft Street, the bridge spanning over the railroad will provide an alternative, safer route for locals. 

The project will eventually “link Cal Poly’s campus bike trail system to the city’s extensive bikeway rollerblading system,” making the commute from downtown to campus more convenient, according to a city report.

“With the new trail portion and bridge over Union Pacific completed, commuters to Cal Poly from downtown will be able to access Cal Poly entirely separated from traffic,” transportation planner and engineer Bryan Wheeler said. “This would help commuters to choose active transportation modes to commute if they are not comfortable with on-street bikeway options.”

The bridge is a significant portion of the Railroad Safety Trail, which serves to fulfill the city’s goals of climate action. 

According to the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce website, the project will provide “safer access for bicyclists and pedestrians while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Since the beginning of the project in 2007, the Railroad Safety Trail progress was postponed and extended due to coordinating construction around the active rail line. The stakeholders are Caltrans, state agencies and private property owners.

According to the preliminary alignment overview section of a city research document, the pedestrian and cyclist bridge is “the most promising trail alignment,” with expenses estimated to be over $5 million.

The Railroad Safety Trail project, covering 1.4 miles of San Luis Obispo, was predicted to be complete by July 2021. Due to delays, however, the next phase of construction will not start until next year. 

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