The Coast News Group

Council OKs small traffic changes to Saxony Road, Quail Gardens Drive

ENCINITAS — The sweeping changes that many along Saxony Road and Quail Gardens Drive envisioned taking place will have to wait, the City Council said Wednesday night.

The City Council, however, did unanimously support a couple of minor changes proffered up by the coalition of the community’s major stakeholders, known as the Encinitas Environment Education Cluster.

These changes include the narrowing of the roadway width of a section of Saxony, and a left-hand turn pocket on Quail Gardens Drive at the entrance to the San Diego Botanic Garden.

As for the more ambitious changes — the E3 Cluster’s plan proposes five roundabouts, raised crosswalks, roadway narrowing median and other traffic-calming measures — the council voted to consider those as an alternative to the upcoming roadway master plan and circulation update.

“My concern is that when we do make big changes on one street, it definitely has an impact in other places,” Mayor Kristin Gaspar said. “And I believe people in surrounding areas need to have a say in considering what those impacts might be, and the only way to do that is to study the big pie. Fundamentally, I couldn’t support looking at big changes absent looking at the whole pie.”

Six organizations comprise the E3 Cluster: The Magdalena Ecke YMCA, the Leichtag Foundation, the Encinitas Union School District, San Diego Botanic Garden, the San Dieguito Heritage Museum and Seacrest Village retirement home.

The groups organized in an effort to improve safety along both of the streets, which they said has become increasingly worse over the past few years as an increased number of motorists have taken to the streets to avoid traffic on Interstate 5.

Since 2014, the City Council has improved several traffic calming measures, including 25-mile-per-hour speed limits along stretches of Saxony and Quail Gardens, but the E3 Cluster has stated its ultimate goal is to implement traffic-calming measures that will ultimately allow the city to lower the speed limit to 25 miles per hour for the entire stretch.

City traffic engineer Rob Blough discussed each element of the group’s plan during Wednesday’s meeting, including some of the potential obstacles. For example, several of the proposed roundabouts, he said, would require the city to acquire an extensive amount of property to the point it could make them unfeasible.

Several members of the cluster spoke Wednesday night in favor of the city’s action, thanking them for the additional interim fixes.

“We really do appreciate this low-hanging fruit,” said Julian Duval, the president and CEO of the Botanic Garden.

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