San Luis Obispo County will soon bridge a gap in its emergency radio communications and hopefully improve emergency vehicle response to Hwy 46’s infamous “Blood Alley.”
Supervisors recently approved a 30-year ground lease to install and maintain a radio communications tower near the Polonio Pass Water Treatment Facility, part of the Coastal Branch of the State Water Project, where several cell phone companies also have towers.
“The County currently lacks reliable public safety radio communications coverage for this area known more commonly as the Highway 41/46 corridor,” reads a staff report. “San Luis Obispo County first responders have little to no radio coverage in this area due to many steep canyon areas and remote properties adjacent to the main highways.”
That area was identified as the, “top communications deficiency by the Homeland Security Approval Authority, consisting of SLO County Sheriff, SLO County Fire, SLO County Office of Emergency Services (OES), SLO County Health Agency, and SLO County Probation (coordinated by the County OES).”
The Hwy 41/46 corridor, known as “Blood Alley” for its numerous fatal accidents, especially at the area called “The Y” where the two highways diverge, is a major east-west truck route and is heavily traveled by Central Valley residents heading back and forth from the Coast.
“This area has a high incidence of severe vehicle accidents and associated hazardous spills. By execution of this ground lease, SLO County Sheriff, Medical, Fire, OES, Environmental Health and Haz-Mat teams will be ensured reliable communications along this corridor upon completion of the facility.”
The remoteness of the area already hampers emergency response, as the nearest fire department is the Cal Fire/County Fire station at Shandon, and emergency response takes some time to arrive.
Eventually, plans are to put in a highway interchange to replace the dangerous left turn across traffic for those heading onto Hwy 41 at The Y.
The County’s new radio facility will include standard communications equipment, a vault, HVAC, back-up generator and a communications tower that has space to lease out for agencies like Kern County and Caltrans.
It will be located along the northeastern section of SLO County Line near the Hwys 41 and 46 “Y” and adjacent to Hwy 46 at the Polonio Pass treatment plant.
The County IT Department will maintain the site expected to be completed in October. Treasure Way, LLC, owns the property and rent is a discounted rate of $450 a month, for 30 years, with annual costs pegged at $5,500 a year.