ESCONDIDO — A new local roadway safety plan may help the city receive funding to make driving safer in Escondido.
Staff presented its new local roadway safety plan (LRSP) on May 25 to the Escondido City Council. The plan identifies “hot spots” for crashes throughout the city and ranks locations based on crash severity costs, then suggests countermeasures that could be added to improve traffic safety and prevent crashes from occurring in those areas.
Caltrans requires municipalities to develop LRSPs to provide grant funding for its Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). Grant applications are due in September for the next grant cycle.
Staff noted Escondido has a history of successfully acquiring highway safety funding, including $1 million in city-matched funds to improve citywide traffic signal communications. Construction for that project is expected to begin next year.
Escondido plans to submit three grant applications this year for roadway safety projects that include several improvements to numerous intersections throughout the city.
One of the projects will improve signal visibility for motorists, install protected left-turn phasing and a leading pedestrian interval that will allow pedestrians to start walking before any traffic lights turn green for four intersections: Washington Avenue and Quince Street, Mission Avenue and Fig Street, Centre City Parkway and Ninth Avenue, and Washington Avenue and Rose Street. This project would cost about $1.2 million.
The intersection at Washington Avenue and Rose Street has been at the forefront of residents’ minds ever since a woman was killed and her child severely injured when two cars collided and hit them in October 2021.
According to city police records, the Washington and Rose intersection had more crashes (41) than any other intersection in the city between 2016 and 2020, though no fatal accidents occurred during that time. The intersection was ranked 10th in the city for crash severity costs at $3.9 million.
Washington and Rose construction may not begin until late next year, according to staff.
“We’re already getting started on the engineering,” said Associate Engineer Craig Williams. “To be able to get the engineering work done and have the project ready to go, assuming we get the funds, takes at least six to eight months out of process and allows construction a lot earlier.”
Traffic Engineer Edd Alberto noted that City Council prioritized Washington and Rose as the next traffic signal project and is included in the city’s draft Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget as well.
Another project the city hopes to address with grant funding would improve signal visibility for motorists and install pedestrian countdown heads as well as leading pedestrian intervals for the intersections of Centre City and El Norte Parkway; Midway Drive and Valley Parkway; Centre City and Valley Parkway; Centre City and Felicita Avenue; Valley Parkway and Quince Street; Mission Avenue and Ash Street; El Norte Parkway and Broadway; Valley Parkway and Ninth Avenue; Mission Avenue and Quince Street; Grand Avenue and Juniper Street; Centre City Parkway and Country Club Lane, and Midway Drive and Grand Avenue.
This project is estimated to cost roughly $573,000.
The Centre City and El Norte Parkway intersection was ranked as the top intersection in terms of crash severity costs with nearly $8.8 million in crashes between 2016 and 2020.
The third project would improve signal visibility, install protected left-turn phasing and install pedestrian crossings at the intersections of Quince and Ninth, Valley and Fig, Mission and Metcalf Street, Centre City and Iris Lane, Mission and Rock Springs Road, and Escondido Boulevard and Grand Avenue. This project’s cost is estimated at nearly $2 million.
Williams said those three projects have a good chance of receiving HSIP funding; for two other potential traffic projects, meanwhile, the city may need to pursue funding elsewhere. One of those projects would include improving signal visibility, leading pedestrian intervals and pedestrian crossings at El Norte Parkway and Ash Street and Morning View Drive. Another would install a traffic signal at the intersection of Centre City, Escondido Boulevard and Brotherton Road.
Overall, the council was pleased with staff’s presentation on the LSRP.
“We all have our own areas of concern, and you guys hit on all of them,” said Councilmember Mike Morasco.
Councilmember Joe Garcia noted that he would like staff to look into improving the crosswalk in front of the senior center on Broadway. Although the crosswalk has lights that show when someone is crossing, seniors are often “dodging cars” there.