The Central Coast Chapter of the American Public Works Association held its annual Project of the Year awards ceremony, celebrating outstanding achievement in the professional realm of public works. This year the City of Paso Robles’ efforts with their 21st Street Complete/Green Street project was awarded Project of the Year for Transportation in San Luis Obispo County for projects valued from $2-$5 million. As the first Green and Complete Street on the Central Coast, this project incorporates sustainable features and accessibility into an aesthetically pleasing design.

As the City of Paso Robles built out its infrastructure in the late 1800s, conveyance of water from Mountain Springs Creek was modified from a natural open channel to a buried storm drain pipe under 21st Street. Historic runoff from the Mountain Springs Creek watershed, along with subsequent development of the urban areas over the course of several decades resulted in frequent flooding, poor pavement, and inadequate facilities for bicycles and pedestrian traffic. To improve flooding issues, pedestrian and cyclist safety, and aesthetic beauty, the City of Paso Robles decided to turn 21st Street, between Vine Street and Riverside Avenue, into the first Green AND Complete Street in the County of San Luis Obispo.

Project accomplishments included a reduction in the frequency and severity of street flooding, increased stormwater filtration, improvements to water basin recharge while enhancing stormwater runoff reaching the Salinas River, and increased sediment removal. The project also improved pedestrian safety, reduced traffic speeds by incorporating traffic calming devices, added Class II bike lanes, increased shade and aesthetic appeal by planting trees and drought tolerant plants, and promoted infill and redevelopment. The project team was composed of the City of Paso Robles, Central Coast Low Impact Development Initiative, SvR Design Company, Cannon, Earth Systems, and Raminha Construction.