CARLSBAD — The city is looking for feedback regarding the intersection of Carlsbad Boulevard and Tamarack Avenue.
The ongoing project by the city is seeking input from the community in a survey on ways to improve safety, beach access and traffic flow in the area.
The project covers Carlsbad Boulevard from Redwood Avenue to the south jetty of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon inlet, including a portion of the bluff top area above the Tamarack Beach parking lot. The project also includes proposed improvements for access to the Coastal Rail Trail along Tamarack Avenue and new signage for the trail along the railroad tracks between Tamarack and Oak avenues. The project will only involve land owned or controlled by the city.
To take the survey, visit carlsbadca.gov/input.
The city is in the beginning stages of the project and is considering three concepts for the intersection, a four-lane design with a traffic signal; a three-lane design with a traffic signal; and a two-lane design with a roundabout.
All of the options include improving safety for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and cars; adding more free on-street parking; widening the sidewalk on the west side of Carlsbad Boulevard, including across the lagoon inlet bridge; moving the southbound bus stop out to a more easily accessible location; adding a crosswalk with flashing lights across Carlsbad Boulevard south of Sequoia Avenue to the lagoon trailhead; adding native landscaping, lighting, benches and other elements to make the area more attractive and functional; and designating more space to sit and enjoy the view.
“The three concepts we’ve developed all have certain tradeoffs, and that’s what we are hoping to get feedback on from the public,” said Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio, who is overseeing a variety of coastal improvements in Carlsbad.
After gathering input from the public, the city will refine the concepts and eventually present them to the city council, along with technical and environmental analyses. According to Barberio, the public will have a chance to weigh in on the revised concepts as well as more detailed designs prior to construction.
The city has set aside up to $4 million for improvements and has obtained grant funding that could be applied to this cost if the final design meets the grant requirements.
The earliest construction could start is at the end of 2017. The city would schedule construction to avoid peak beach-going times of year.
The city is working on a number of initiatives to make it easier and safer to get to the beach and travel along Carlsbad Boulevard, by car, bike or on foot. The projects are all based on the Carlsbad Community Vision, a set of nine core values developed through a two-year public outreach process.
“Each of these projects is being designed in collaboration with the community to ensure we preserve Carlsbad’s unique coastal character,” said Barberio.
Other recent improvements along Carlsbad Boulevard include installing a new walking path, enhancing access to the existing beach trail, widening the main entry to the lot, adding an additional disabled parking spot and sealing and restriping the Ocean Street parking lot; a roundabout, landscaping, public art, sidewalks and bike paths at Carlsbad Boulevard and State Street; new crosswalks between Oak and Hemlock avenues; and improved bike lanes along the entire 6.5 mile length of Carlsbad Boulevard.
Through a partnership with State Parks, which controls most of the beaches in Carlsbad, the city also renovated and took over maintenance of the Tamarack restrooms, the bluff between Tamarack Avenue and the area north of Pine Avenue and landscaping on the upper sea wall.
The most recent online survey, developed by city staff for the Tamarack Area Coastal Improvements Project, asks respondents to choose from three options designed to improve safety, beach access and traffic flow at the intersection of Carlsbad Boulevard and Tamarack. After careful consideration, I chose the Roundabout Plan for the reasons listed in the staff’s comparative summary.
Improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and access:
The Roundabout Plan would widen the sidewalk on the west side of Carlsbad Boulevard, over the bridge, from 4 ft. to 16 ft; the safety buffer for bikes from 5 ft. to 8 ft. alongside Carlsbad Boulevard, and from 0 to 2 ft. along Tamarack.
Reduce air pollution, improve parking and landscaping:
It’s the only option that would reduce air pollution and traffic noise. It would also add fourteen new parking spaces and provide larger gathering and viewing areas than the other two options.
Improve safety without sacrificing traffic flow:
Finally, the roundabout is the best way to improve safety for drivers, bikers and walkers without increasing drive through time. (See below)
To trust, but verify the staff report, I researched the results of studies comparing standard intersections vs. roundabouts nationwide. Here’s what I found in an April 2016 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Federal Highway Administration.
Roundabouts typically achieve a 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, a 75 percent reduction in injury collisions, a 90 percent reduction in fatality collisions, and a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions. Serious crashes are essentially eliminated because vehicles travel in the same direction and at low speeds, generally less than 20 mph in urban areas. They also reduce the likelihood of rear-end crashes by removing the incentive for drivers to speed up to beat light changes and by reducing abrupt stops at red lights.
Several studies have reported significant improvements in traffic flow with conversion to roundabouts. Most research focused on single-lane roundabouts, as proposed for Carlsbad Boulevard/Tamarack. A study of three locations in New Hampshire, New York and Washington state, where roundabouts replaced traffic signals, found an 89 percent average reduction in vehicle delays and a 56 percent average reduction in vehicle stops.
Drivers may be skeptical of or opposed to roundabouts. But several Institute studies show opinions quickly change when drivers become familiar with them. In several studies, 36 percent of drivers supported the roundabouts before construction compared with 50 percent shortly after. Follow-up surveys after they had been in place for more than a year found public support increased to about 70 percent on average.
They want “input” on the proposed “improvements”. Right. Then Mayor Mall and the City Clowncil will do whatever they please and follow the orders of their Sith lords, the hoteliers and developers who really run this city. Time for a change in leadership. In fact, time for some REAL leadership. The days of money talking are coming to an end.
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