CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council unanimously decided on Nov. 8 that motorists are going to have slow down their speed from 45 mph to 40 mph along the busy route of La Costa Avenue between the areas of El Camino Real and Rancho Santa Fe Road.
Earlier this summer, an interim striping plan decreased one lane going westbound in this locale and created a bike lane. In essence, it served as an analysis to see if sight distance at driveways improved and if speeds were reduced on this secondary arterial street. And it did just that.
According to Doug Bilse, senior traffic engineer, lowering the speed limit to 40 mph would add more safety measurements.
A lawsuit settlement, he said, created a clear understanding that the traffic safety issues on La Costa Avenue needed an immediate resolution. The court case involved an injured motorcyclist who was awarded $2.9 million from the City of Carlsbad earlier this year.
City attorney, Ronald Ball, offered legal clarification regarding speed limit reduction.
Ball said the city council sets a speed limit based on a speed survey. “So, the (city council) doesn’t challenge its own speed limit; it decides what is the reasonable improved speed limit set,” he said.
Bilse said that the city standard for the street design criteria for a secondary arterial is 40 mph.
While city council members agreed on the new speed limit, not all agreed on adopting a resolution to accept the La Costa Avenue Improvement Plan. The plan, which would encourage community input, would first consider a “road diet.” A road diet reduces one lane in each direction. Other plan objectives include roundabouts, medians, and bulb outs to decrease motorist speed and promote pedestrian safety.
Some public speakers such as Christine Davis, a La Costa Avenue homeowner, said she was delighted with the interim striping improvements. For her, a level of chaos has been eliminated and is in favor of future improvements.
Other public speakers such as Carlsbad resident Steve Linke disagreed. He said that reducing the speed limit to 40 mph wasn’t warranted and simple advisory signs to reduce speeds would suffice. As far as Linke was concerned, the interim striping was enough. “We can quit,” he said. “We’re done.”
The La Costa Improvement Plan is estimated to cost $3.5 to $4.5 million. It will be financially driven and done in phases. For example, phase 1, may consist of a road diet between Fairway Lane and Levante Street and a roundabout at Villa Castilla Way. It’s the city council, however, which makes that final determination.
Blackburn was not fully convinced in moving forward with the La Costa Improvement Plan. Although he agreed to the resolution in the Interim Striping Plan and speed limit reduction, he couldn’t consent to the La Costa Improvement Plan.
“Since I was elected, one of the things I have been working very hard at is traffic signal technology and one of my concerns is the flow of traffic and quality of life,” he said. “For at least right now, I would rather wait and say ‘no’ to this project; it doesn’t mean we can’t say ‘yes’ to it sometime in the future but I would rather let the striping have a few more years.”
Even with Blackburn’s opposition, the proposal still passed.
According to Bilse, the La Costa Avenue Improvement Plan needs to be folded into the updated General Plan, which may take a couple more years to do.