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A motorist driving north on Carlsbad Boulevard takes the Palomar Airport Road exit on Aug. 19. Photo by Steve Puterski
A motorist driving north on Carlsbad Boulevard takes the Palomar Airport Road exit on Aug. 19. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad Boulevard realignment project granted one-year extension

CARLSBAD — The city of Carlsbad has received a one-year extension from the state regarding its study of realigning Carlsbad Boulevard, staff announced during a Sept. 13 City Council meeting.

Tom Frank, the city’s transportation director, said the city pursued the extension for several reasons, including more time to conduct public outreach and address the proposed options’ impacts.

Also known as the South Carlsbad Coastline Project, the city tapped Scripps Institute of Oceanography to study the impacts of sea-level rise and realign a one-mile stretch from Manzano Drive — adjacent to the Terramar neighborhood — to Island Way through a $458,075 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

The one-mile stretch is part of the larger South Carlsbad Boulevard Climate Adaptation Project, which calls to realign three miles of the road from Manzano Lane to La Costa Avenue and would open 60 acres of land to be rezoned and repurposed as parks and open space, Frank said.

“There’s a history of erosion and instability,” said Katie Hentrich, senior program manager of the bluff and road. “There was rock shoreline protection from 2009 to 2016. The city asked for a five-year extension to develop a plan, and the coastline project meets that requirement. The goal is to create an environment where people slow down and enjoy the scenery.”

The study is in response to sea-level rise and climate change modeling, showing much of the bluff and a portion of the road in a “hazard zone,” which is an area where it will be subject to damage and erosion. This study also shows the roadway designated as a “coastal street” in the 2015 General Plan Update to reduce speeds, add safer bike lanes and more sidewalks and reduce the length of crosswalks.

The scope of work includes a cliff erosion assessment, restoration analysis of Las Encinas Creek and conceptual designs to mitigate coastal flooding, erosion and sea-level rise impacts. Frank said the grant does not cover construction costs or land uses.

Frank said the goal is to move the road as soon as possible with a transition to the Leucadia Streetscape project, reduce the number of lans from four to two, remove traffic lights, add roundabouts, reduce the distance to cross the road, and install wider and safer bike lanes and sidewalks.

“It functions better, and there is less congestion,” Frank said of roundabouts, noting they reduce congestion by 50%. “Roundabouts are a much more effective intersection control … and reduce fatalities by 80%.”

The council agreed there is an urgency, although Councilman Keith Blackburn said he doesn’t support reducing lanes from four to two. He said he must see more data to support any lane reduction, although he was in favor of the rest of the project goals.

Councilwoman Teresa Acosta said she was also in favor of both projects. Still, she stressed connecting to Encinitas is a crucial component. Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel said this stretch is an asset to the city and a compliment to the northern part of the city, where there is a heavy bike and pedestrian traffic from Carlsbad Village to Cannon Road.

Councilman Peder Norby said it is essential to reduce the asphalt sections and reclaim them for other modes of transportation. However, Norby said he has “no desire for any economic footprint” along the project corridor.

Nikki Matosian, the city’s community relations manager, said the public outreach already conducted showed several findings. These include concerns about development along the coast. At the same time, residents also want the area to retain its natural feel, have safe and accessible biking and walking paths, preserve views, maintain and improve beach access, keep traffic moving and protect bluffs from erosion.

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