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Carlsbad project aims to improve pedestrian safety

CARLSBAD — With the summer season right around the corner, Carlsbad residents and visitors alike will be embarking on new pedestrian crossings.To make beach access safer along Carlsbad Boulevard, the span between Carlsbad Village Drive and Tamarack is expected to undergo upgrades within the weeks ahead.

The safety makeovers will occur at Oak, Sycamore, Maple, Cherry, Hemlock and Pine avenues.

Particular streets will have various upgrades and may have one or more of the following improvements to it such as raised medians, high-visibility pedestrian crosswalks onto Carlsbad Boulevard, flashing beacons, restricted westbound left-turns and pedestrian crossing warning signs.

“We are going to try to complete these improvements before the peak summer season,” said Bryan Jones, deputy director of the transportation department at the city of Carlsbad. “We have not identified an exact schedule yet but will communicate our construction schedule when we have it better defined.”

Jones said that he anticipates that the construction should last a few weeks and the city will do its best to minimize disruptions during this timeframe.

More than likely, the first part of the construction will include the median islands and it appears the sites will be constructed simultaneously.

Jones pointed out that the five future median islands, located at Oak, Sycamore, Maple, Cherry and Hemlock avenues, will have a great impact for beach-access pedestrian crossing.

“The pedestrian median islands will allow pedestrians to cross one direction of vehicle traffic at a time so that the pedestrians only have to wait for a gap to cross half of the roadway in one direction rather than the full roadway which is five lanes, 70 plus feet across, and 30 miles per hour in both directions,” he said.

The rectangular rapid flashing beacons will be at Oak, Sycamore, Maple, Cherry and Hemlock avenues.

“Pedestrians will push a pedestrian push button on the sidewalk, which will trigger the rectangular rapid-flashing beacon LED lights to warn motorists that a pedestrian is waiting to cross,” Jones said. “These lights will help draw attention to pedestrians wanting to cross the roadway.”

City Council edited this agenda item before approving it. Initially, staff suggested the installation of three beacon LED lights at a given intersection going in one direction. These lights would stretch the distance of Carlsbad Boulevard. Council members decided one light in each direction would suffice for now. Lights will be installed on a pole in the pedestrian median islands.

“If additional lights are desired to increase motorists’ compliance with pedestrians crossing the roadway, we can always add more lights in the future,” said Jones, noting this can be done in an incremental approach.

The estimated cost of the project is $200,000. The reduction in the number of rapid flashing beacons that staff first proposed may shave off less than 5 percent of the estimated improvement cost.

In January, City Council directed staff to make Carlsbad streets complete and livable. Pedestrian safety crossings were part of this focus.

“These improvements will improve safety and support our community core values to promote active, healthy lifestyles and beach access.” Jones said.