ENCINITAS — City officials are pleased with advancements of the El Portal Undercrossing project along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, with construction efforts preparing to ramp up in October, while the remaining segments of Leucadia Streetscape from Basil Street up to La Costa Avenue remain works in progress.
The structure for the El Portal pedestrian underpass has already been completed with construction crews now preparing for the next stages including the addition of retaining walls.
“The primary objective will be to remove the temporary shoring that was put in place to construct the retaining walls, which you can see out there now,” said Allie DeVaux, project manager for SANDAG.
The construction has already resulted in planned rail closures during night and weekend work and there will be more planned closures in advance of the remaining work. SANDAG representatives said the agency is preparing for work windows during the first and third weeks in October.
The first phase of the Leucadia Streetscape project continues to see construction in the area as well. Between Marcheta Street and Basil Street, the road has been narrowed to construct new medians.
As part of that phase, the city said it also has installed 2000 feet of new storm drainage pipe from El Portal to Encinitas Boulevard approximately 20-feet underground. There are 1000 feet of pipe still to be installed to help limit flooding in the area.
“The work on the last stretch of the storm drain down by Encinitas Boulevard will begin next month,” said Jill Bankston, the city’s acting city engineer.
As the work continues on the different phases and segments of the Streetscape project, a local resident has partnered with the city to provide overhead drone footage of the progress. Sean Workman, co-founder of visual media company Sudenim Visual Media, has agreed to regular flyovers of the area.
The design and permitting processes for Streetscape continue and the city will have to wait for approvals from the California Coastal Commission and approval of a loan of up to $20 million from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or IBank.
The city said it will also wait for more information from the infrastructure bill working its way through the US Congress.
“Both of those projects are bookend projects that will create wider sidewalks, new landscaping, new pedestrian crossings and one vehicle lane in each direction along with a bike lane,” Bankston said.
Construction for those projects is not expected to begin until late into next year as long as there are no unforeseen issues with Coastal Commission or IBank approval.
The city is so happy with progress on both projects, it is planning a “Halfway Point Celebration” for sometime after Sept. 30 at one of the newly constructed parking pods that were finished in Phase 1 construction on Daphne Street.
City staff said the event would be small and not open to the general public but Mayor Catherine Blakespear expressed her hope for a more impressive ceremony.
“We shouldn’t have some totally rinky-dink little press conference because we’re worried about COVID. Because I’m going to press conferences all the time with SANDAG and they’re outside and socially distanced and people can wear a mask. So let’s not let that overwhelm the sense of what we’re doing here,” Blakespear said.
UPDATE: The city’s “Halfway Point Celebration” has been rescheduled to sometime after Sept. 30 due to a scheduling conflict.