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A gas-powered pump connects to an underground inlet at Leucadia Roadside Park to divert excess stormwater onto Beacon's Beach. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
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Levin secures millions in federal grants for North County projects

REGION —  Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA) helped secure millions in federal grants for several North County projects, from helping construct Veterans Memorial Park in Carlsbad to improving stormwater drainage along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.

In total, Levin secured nearly $50 million for projects in Orange and San Diego counties after the House of Representatives recently passed a federal omnibus appropriations bill.

The city of Carlsbad received $3 million to help fund construction for Veterans Memorial Park, which consists of 94 acres of open space off Cannon Road along Faraday Avenue and will feature approximately 55 acres of preserve and 39 acres of parkland.

The sprawling park includes a memorial plaza, three playgrounds, two mountain bike tracks, outdoor exercise and picnic areas, trails and public art, among other features.

Construction is expected to be in 2024 be completed by 2025.

“This project will benefit Carlsbad’s estimated 114,250 residents and four million visitors each year, including those from neighboring cities that lack access to new park facilities,” Levin’s statement reads. “For this reason, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has identified the Veterans Memorial Park as a regional open space park, indicating that the park will serve a regional need.”

According to the city’s park performance standards, each of the city’s quadrants will have a surplus of at least 14 acres of park space.

In August, Kyle Lancaster, Carlsbad’s director of Parks and Recreation, said the city also has 80 acres of park projects in the pipeline.

The City of Carlsbad will receive $3 million through a federal grant to help fund the construction of Veterans Memorial Park. Courtesy rendering
The City of Carlsbad will receive $3 million through a federal grant to help fund the construction of Veterans Memorial Park. Courtesy rendering

Lancaster said the next step is to prepare the bid with an estimated project cost of $30.2 million funded by the Community Facilities District No. 1, a citywide district created in 1991 to pay for facilities, improvements and highway interchanges. The district levied a one-time special tax lien on vacant properties to help finance the development.

However, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, construction estimates have increased to about $35 million.

Funding for other municipalities

— Del Mar received $750,000 toward its Del Mar Climate Resiliency and Access Improvement Project. The project would enhance mobility and adaptation to the effects of climate change in Del Mar and the surrounding area.

The city requested $1,768,200 to implement pre-construction monitoring and project notification for a future sand replenishment project, complete a conceptual design for a flood mitigation project, and connect existing trails to expand pedestrian access and create a scenic loop trail network through the entire city.

— The MiraCosta Community College District received $1 million for its Technology Career Institute. The institute will use this funding to expand its course offerings to include virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation.

With this funding, TCI expects to train at least 445 students, and the program will also make education and certificates accessible to a more diverse community. Also, the institute can reduce tuition to a maximum of $1,000 for any individual (Tuition typically runs between $1,500 and $7,500). It will also help them provide childcare and transportation services for participants in the short-term, intensive training program.

— The City of Encinitas will receive $4 million for the Leucadia Streetscape Drainage Improvements project. The section of Coast Highway 101 traversing Leucadia is relatively flat and lies at a low point between a rail corridor and coastal bluffs.

The drainage infrastructure on Coast Highway needs to be improved to handle moderate storm events. This project would fund new drainage infrastructure with pipes up to 66 inches in diameter to address longstanding flooding through the corridor that leaves ponding on the highway and negatively impacts local residences and businesses.

Leucadia flooding and drainage
A flooded alleyway near W. Leucadia Blvd on Nov. 28, 2019. The City of Encinitas will receive $4 million for the Leucadia Streetscape Drainage Improvements project. Courtesy photo

— Oceanside is set to receive $34 million for the Loma Alta Creek Sewer Relocation project. It will relocate a sewer main from a creek bed to a roadway, minimizing the chance of environmental damage in the event of a sanitary sewer overflow.

According to Levin, the project will renew the pipeline and minimize the risk of sewer spills into a waterway. Levin said it would also protect and improve aquatic resources and water quality in the Loma Alta Creek, a Clean Water Act-listed waterway.

— Solana Beach will receive $7 million for Lomas Santa Fe Drive to improve modern multi-modal infrastructure for pedestrian and cyclist safety and vehicular traffic calming.

The overall objective of the community project funding request is to transform this automobile-oriented roadway into a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly corridor by constructing a multi-use trail, widening sidewalks, extending curbs, improving Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, improving signal timing to increase pedestrian and driver awareness, and reducing congestion.

The multi-modal transportation corridor will allow residents, students, commuters, and visitors to more safely travel by bicycle, foot, automobile, or transit to two community shopping centers, schools, offices, and community facilities, Levin said.

— Vista will receive $2.231 million for its Sidewalk Improvement and Enhanced Street Lighting Project. The money will help fund the installation of frontage improvements to enhance safety and improve multimodal transportation access along the south side of Nevada Avenue, from N. Santa Fe Avenue to Lemon Avenue, and the east side of Lemon Avenue, from Nevada Avenue to Raintree Place.

Specific improvements include road widening and new curbs, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant corner ramps, restriping roads and crosswalks, and installing new lights.

— The North County Transit District will receive $7 million for its Sprinter Corridor Service Improvement Project. Funds would complete the design of phase two of the project, which will modernize the Sprinter signal system.

The broader project seeks to increase the frequency of service from 30-minute headways to 15-minute headways by improving the rail signals and double tracking 9.5 miles along the corridor.

— San Diego County will receive two grants, one for $4.48 million for its Mobile Crisis Response Team and one for $3.75 million to purchase a twin-engine firefighting helicopter.

The requested funding would enhance mobile crisis response by adding overnight and weekend coverage for four mobile crisis teams seven days per week. Each unit comprises one clinician, one case manager, and one peer and administrative support specialist and would cost $1.12 million, including salaries, benefits, and associated operational/indirect costs.

A twin-engine helicopter allows for firefighting day and night and increases the amount of water deployed with each drop. In cases of engine failure, a single engine significantly increases the risk to the crew and anyone being hoisted during a rescue.

According to Levin, there are also over 100,000 structures in the designated high-fire risk area in the county. As a result, more than 80% of the area qualifies as a disadvantaged community.

These forests and communities have suffered from devastating wildfires, and fire risk is only getting more severe. During the past two decades, he said that over 600,000 acres have burned, nearly 5,000 homes have been destroyed, and dozens of lives have been lost.