The Coast News Group

E3 Cluster drafts traffic calming plan

Plan includes five roundabouts, all-way stops

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Environment Education Cluster first draft of its plan to calm traffic along Saxony Road and Quail Gardens Drive between Encinitas and Leucadia boulevards includes, among other things, five roundabouts, several raised crosswalks and two all-way stop signs.

The coalition of organizations along the two streets unveiled the plan at a May 14 meeting at the Leichtag Foundation Farm.

More than 40 people attended the 90-minute workshop, viewing large maps of the proposal and leaving comments and critiques of the plan with representatives of the traffic engineering firm hired by the Cluster to develop the plan.

The highlights of the plan include:

• Two proposed roundabouts, two raised sidewalks and and two all-way stop signs along Quail Gardens Drive.

The roundabouts would be located at Kristen Court and Ecke Ranch Road, and the stop signs at Via Zamia and the entrance to the San Diego Botanic Garden. The raised sidewalks would be to the north and south of the first roundabout.

• Three proposed roundabouts, a raised crosswalk, and three so-called landscape choke points along Saxony Road. The roundabouts would be at Ecke Ranch Road, the entrance to the YMCA and Seacrest Way, while the raised crosswalk — which would include rapid flashing lights activated when pedestrians cross — would be at Puebla Street. The landscaping features, which would shrink the roadway profile by installing a landscape median and landscaping along the roadside, would be between the raised crosswalk and the first roundabout.

Dawn Wilson, a traffic engineer with the firm Fehr and Peers, said the plan was designed based on the feedback residents gave the group at two public workshops held in April. Wilson said the spacing of the different traffic-calming measure was strategic, in an effort to not create traffic choke points or encourage speeding between the calming devices.

“All of these things work as a system,” Wilson said.

The next step for the E3 cluster is to take feedback from the workshop, fine tune the plan and prepare to present it to the council as an information item during the fall, where they hope to get feedback from the council and city staff.

Following that step, the group will have to determine how to pay for whatever plan the council signs off on. Roundabouts cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, Wilson said, so the five roundabouts alone could cost anywhere from $2.5 million to $5 million.

Wilson said funding will come from three likely sources: the six organizations spearheading the efforts, the city and from federal and state grants.

Most of the residents on hand at the workshop favored the plan, which they said combined with recent actions taken along the streets should lower speeds significantly.

The city recently instituted a 25-miles-per-hour senior speed-limit zone along a stretch of Saxony near Seacrest Village, a raised crosswalk on Quail Gardens Drive and speed signs along both streets.

“I must say that I like what these guys are doing,” said Roseann Duncan, who lives along Saxony. “I wasn’t the hugest fan of roundabouts, but the more I understand how they work, I’m warming up to them.”

Encinitas Union School District superintendent Timothy Baird said that the raised crosswalk that was recently installed along Quail Gardens Drive between the district’s new farm lab and the Heritage Museum has already been a success, allowing students who are visiting the sites to cross the street without fear of being involved in a traffic collision.

“I’m definitely in favor of all of this,” Baird said. “We’ve seen what the speed feedback signs and the crosswalk have done, so we think this is really going to help make it safer for all residents, and motorists.”