ENCINITAS — Encinitas residents and business owners had a final opportunity to voice their preference on a streetscape design at the North Coast Highway 101 Workshop No. 4 held Oct. 10. A follow-up survey about the two-mile stretch of Coast Highway 101 from A Street to La Costa Avenue was available at City Hall through Oct. 14.
A key question on the survey asked residents and business owners to choose between Alternative 4A, which features roundabouts, drop lanes as a traffic calming measure, reverse angle parking and slower driving speeds, or Alternative 5, which features traffic lights and four consistent traffic lanes.
The workshop goal was to collect as much community input as possible before the city Planning and Building Department presents results of the survey to City Council in early 2010.
“I feel we truly vetted the issue,” Diane Snyder Langager, principal planner of the city of Encinitas, said. “It was a huge turnout. I’m very pleased. It was very balanced and very polite.”
The workshop led by MW Peltz and Associates, the prime consultant on the project, presented streetscape Alternatives 4A and 5, provided design blueprints for workshop participants to write comments on, and included time for comments and questions.
There was no clear consensus at the end of the workshop in support of Alternative 4A or Alternative 5. “It’s a community project that serves the community and changes the feeling of the community,” Tom Frank, board member of Leucadia 101 Main Street Association, said. “I don’t think any project can get a 100 percent favor.”
To get a count of how many residents and business owners are in favor of each option, survey responses will be tallied. “We need to rely on the questioners,” Langager said. “Right now it’s an either/or.”
John Keating, principal engineer of Linscott Law and Greenspan Engineers, a subcontracted consultant on the project, said both plans will work well to accommodate traffic, bike lanes, more parking and a business-friendly traffic flow.
A detailed traffic analysis done by Linscott Law and Greenspan determined that Alternative 4A, with roundabouts and a speed limit of 30 mph, will provide a more consistent traffic flow and take drivers 6.5 to eight minutes to travel from A Street to La Costa Avenue. Alternative 5, with stoplights and a speed limit of 35 mph, will take drivers six to 10 minutes to travel the same distance.
“I’m clearly in the 4A camp,” Frank said. “It provides walkability and fills the desire to create a business and community friendly Main Street. Alternative 5 does not address those objectives.”
Frank faults Alternative 5 for not providing sufficient tree canopy, space for bike lanes and not reducing driving speeds and credits Alternative 4A with providing safer street crossings through roundabouts.
“Roundabouts are safer for pedestrians,” Frank said. “There is a safe haven halfway through the street.” Roundabouts in Alternative 4A provide pedestrians a protected median after walking 15 feet verses the proposed signal intersections in Alternative 5 where pedestrians need to walk 50 feet without any protection, Frank said.
Others disagree and favor Alternative 5. Mary Mumm, an Encinitas resident, sees traffic lights in Alternative 5 as a safer way to control intersections. “We need lights for safety of pedestrians and drivers who might not see a child or pedestrian on the sidewalk.”
Mumm also sees safety hazards in the proposed reverse parking in Alternative 4A that require drivers on Highway 101 to back into spaces. “I definitely think it’s dangerous for toddlers or people backing into people, “ Mumm said.
Exhaust drop on the sidewalk is another drawback of reverse parking proposed in Alternative 4A. “How about having lunch or dinner at a restaurant and having exhaust fumes from a car?” Mumm asked.
Once the survey results are presented to council and a plan is decided upon, the project will move forward through a permit process, final design review, cost process and a bid out to construct phase I.
According to Langager, the current 2009-2010 budget has $1.9 million earmarked to cover consultants fees and construction of phase I, from A Street, where recent Coast Highway 101 landscaping ends, to North Court, just south of Pannikin Coffee and Tea.
For the next six years, $500,000 a year in TransNet funds are presently allocated to finish the project, Langager said.
The final cost of the streetscape project has not been determined. It’s estimated Alternative 5 will cost less to build than Alternative 4A, but more to maintain which will equal out the cost of both plans over time.