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The Carlsbad City Council approved a $1.9 million contract during its Aug. 17 meeting for preliminary design on the College Boulevard extension project. Photo by Steve Puterski
The Carlsbad City Council approved a $1.9 million contract during its Aug. 17 meeting for preliminary design on the College Boulevard extension project. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad council green lights College Boulevard extension design

CARLSBAD — The city is moving forward with preliminary designs after the Carlsbad City Council approved a $1.9 million contract for the College Boulevard extension.

On May 5, the council approved a city-led financing program for the project, also known as College Boulevard Reach A, which would connect the road from Sunny Creek to Cannon roads just east of Rancho Carlsbad and near Sage Creek High School.

The road is planned to be a four-lane, 1.5-mile stretch with an estimated cost of at least $30 million, according to an article in The Coast News last year.

Passed on its consent calendar, Mayor Matt Hall was the lone no vote, staying consistent with his previous votes on the issues. This project is a first in the city’s history as the city, not developers, will be paying to construct a roadway.

“I personally feel like this is growth-inducing and something we’ve never done before in growth management,” Hall said. “I voted against in a previous agenda item, and I will be voting no on this item.”

Leading the design is Chen Ryan Associates, Inc., for preliminary engineering design and environmental assessments. Per the staff report, work by Chen Ryan Associates includes land use review, land surveying, hydrological studies, General Plan compliance and preliminary studies on engineering, traffic, stormwater quality and construction costs, to name a few.

The city has already spent $2.1 million on the project, and the $1.9 million is part of the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget, while the consultants’ work is expected to be completed in late 2023.

Additionally, the city may use $8.5 million from the Capital Improvement Program to assist with funding. However, if more than $1 million of General Funds are allocated for the project, it must be approved by voters under Proposition H.

According to the staff report, the project will reduce travel times and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, it may be used as a bypass to avoid the Cannon Road and El Camino Real intersection, which is currently under construction and has been a sore point of traffic for years.

Lela Panagides, who lost her bid for the District 2 seat against Councilman Keith Blackburn in 2020, made this segment a part of her campaign. Panagides sent a letter to the council objecting as the cost could be near $33 million, a danger to area habitat and would increase traffic and speeds near the high school.

“The mayor pointed out that this is just the starting point and does not include a full EIR (environmental impact report), litigation and infrastructure costs,” Panagides said of the cost. “The debt financing would have to be served by assessments, parcel tax or municipal bonds.”

The project has been discussed for several years, with residents from Rancho Carlsbad, a retirement community on El Camino Real and Cannon Road, voicing concerns in 2019. Their concerns included flooding, an RV park and 125 gardens for residents.

Flooding, or at least rising water levels, has been a significant concern over the years for the community.

Three creeks — Encina, Agua Hedionda and Calavera — cut through the properties. The Encina and Calavera creeks converge in the northeast part of Rancho Carlsbad, while the Calavera and Agua Hedionda creeks intersect at the intersection of Cannon Road and El Camino.

Heavy rains are an issue for the senior community and the creeks have crested in the past, thus the concerns.