It’s estimated to be completed next spring

ATASCADERO — As of Monday, June 10, the El Camino Real Downtown Safety and Parking Enhancements Project (ECR Project) is officially off the ground. The project has been in the works for the last seven years.

“This project specifically was initiated in 2017,” said Project Manager and Public Works Deputy Director Ryan Hayes. “Then there was some initial work to get a consultant on board to do some preliminary ideas for concept designs and then an extensive public outreach process that was just coming to a close; we were coming into our last round of meetings for public outreach to get public comment and input when COVID hit in March of 2020. So it put it on a little bit of a pause because we couldn’t have public meetings.” 

In 2021, the city brought the ECR Project back to look at the initial design and do another round of public outreach. There, they looked at different alternatives and worked to find the preferred alternative for the plan. At the Tuesday, May 28, City Council meeting, the council approved the construction awards to Filippin Engineering, Inc. and Souza Construction. The project will be largely funded by state and federal transportation dollars, as well as infrastructure dollars that came out of the COVID American Rescue Act.


“This is a lot of outside money coming in. So that’s a win for our community,” stated Atascadero City Manager Jim Lewis. “We can use these state and federal dollars for a local project. That’s a win.” 

The base construction budget that was awarded to the city’s contractors is $9.5 million, and the total project budget is just under $12 million, including everything that’s already been done.

The ECR Project has started off with about a month’s worth of sewer replacement work. 

“Our sewer line. Our sewer mains throughout downtown are almost 100 years old,” Hayes said. “So we’re taking the opportunity; we don’t want something to happen to the sewer lines right after we finish this beautiful project.”

The next part of construction, including adding a median with parking and clear pedestrian crosswalks, will start as soon as the sewers are done and will last through the end of the year.

“We actually have construction working days out through late spring, April. But that will probably start to be a lot more of the pretty stuff. The trees, the planting, a little bit of irrigation work, some of that stuff,” continued Hayes.

The full construction is a little over a half-mile of ECR, stretching from just north of Highway 41 and going through Rosario Avenue.

“We will get well over 100 free parking spots that will make it much easier to park and access our downtown in front of your favorite development and your favorite restaurants,” Lewis said about the benefits of the ECR Project. “We will get safety in our corridor. Slower vehicle speeds, easier pedestrian crossings, and much safer crossings for our children between the high school and the middle school crossing El Camino. So that safety is important. We’ll have lighting in the evenings. It’ll be very attractive and really help the corridor’s visibility. We’re going to have this beautiful median down the center, not just with parking but greenery and beautification.” 

Lewis also said that the city is very aware that the hard construction is going to have some disturbance to local businesses, but that they are already working on a campaign to help everyone out.

“We’ve put money into the project budget. It’s kind of like the Shop Local campaign, where when you spend $100, you get a gift card. We’re going to do that, but targeted to those businesses while we’re working in front of them,” added Lewis. “I think it’s really important that the community knows that the city is very cognizant of the impacts it’s going to have on some of our business people, and we don’t want to lose any of them.” 

They will also have near-weekly discussions with people in the community about the impacts of the project, and project look-aheads so everyone knows what is happening construction-wise. The city will also be helping to put together commericials and marketing in the corridor during the project. 

The city is also starting conversations with Atascadero Middle School and The Fine Arts Acedemy to have different routes by last name and by school for school pick-up and drop-off, to make sure the traffic is spread out throughout the area. Lewis has a son who will be going to school there this fall, and he is even going to see the direct impact that the ERC Project is having on the community.

“No doubt this is road construction in the middle of downtown. I want to make that very clear to people,” Lewis said. “However, Ryan [Hayes] and our team will do everything we can to make sure impacts are as minimal as possible. There will always be access northbound and southbound. You’ll always be able to get through downtown. Things will be appropriately signed, flagged, businesses will always have access to their business.”

To keep updated on the ECR Project, go to

Featured Image: A mock-up of the El Camino Real Downtown Safety and Parking Enhancements Project is shown. Provided by Atascadero City.