By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Despite the city having financial woes, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted late Tuesday night in favor of the most expensive option for the long-debated Brisco Road interchange project.
Just before midnight, the Arroyo Grande council voted 3-2 for a $22.7 million version of the project, passing on a $12.3 million alternative. Mayor Caren Ray Russom and Councilman Jimmy Paulding cast the dissenting votes.
The project consists of moving the Brisco Road on and off-ramps to West Branch Street and Rodeo Drive, close to the South County Regional Center, where a large roundabout will be constructed. Plans also call for intersection improvements at Grace Lane and Rodeo Drive.
Council members passed on a cheaper alternative that consisted of closing the northbound on and off-ramps at Brisco Road, completing improvements at the intersection of Highway 101 and Camino Mercado, widening the Grand Avenue Bridge, and improving the northbound and southbound ramps at Highway 101 and Grand Avenue. Some business owners argued the cheaper alternative would have impacted the flow of traffic and thus reduced business.
Caltrans has allocated $6.6 million for the Brisco Road interchange project, but Arroyo Grande still has insufficient funding to complete the project, City Manager James Begman said. When asked by Mayor Ray Russom how Arroyo Grande would fund the option the council selected Tuesday night, Begman said the project would go to the voters.