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Roundabout planned for Jimmy Durante; utility poles will remain

DEL MAR — Installation of the city’s first roundabout, at the intersection of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive, moved another step forward at the Oct. 6 meeting, after council members approved the design proposal and project schedule.

The traffic-calming device was added in May to a citywide sidewalk, street and drainage project.

The design proposal does not feature public art elements, but the plans include water and power for the roundabout area so they can be added later.

Aging utility infrastructure, including a water main built in 1947 and a wastewater pipeline, will be replaced in the project area. Utility poles, however, will remain in place.

As directed by council members, staff sent letters to 110 adjacent and nearby property owners to gauge interest in creating a privately funded underground utility district.

According to the staff report, the response “has not been positive” primarily due to the estimated $4 million price tag.

However, the design leaves space in the right of way if there is a future desire to underground the utility poles.

City staff is planning a variety of public outreach efforts for the roundabout portion of the project, which is expected to cost approximately $1 million.

In August, adjacent property owners received notices describing the project and seeking input. Survey staking, similar to what was used during the Beach Colony improvements, will be installed and an onsite open house is planned for 4 p.m.  Oct. 23.

Neighborhood discussions in the homes of residents will also be held. Staff expects the design to be finalized next month after all public comments and questions are addressed. Project bids will go out in December, with a contract award expected in January.

If all goes as planned, the roundabout will be completed before Memorial Day, just prior to the opening of the 2015 San Diego County Fair.

Funding for the project will come from bonds issued by the San Diego Association of Governments to advance construction projects.

The city will use the money it receives annually in TransNet funds — about $200,000 — to pay the debt.

TransNet is a voter-approved half-cent sales tax given to cities for use on transportation projects. It is the same financing mechanism Solana Beach used to fund its improvement project along Coast Highway 101.

“I’m very happy to see this design going forward,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said. “It’s going to encourage pedestrian traffic (and) make it easy to get down to the lagoon and to the fairgrounds.

“The roundabout, we always have to remember … is to improve pedestrian safety, among other benefits,” such as slowing traffic, he added. “So I think it’s going to be a major improvement for that area and solves a lot of problems.”

The Council vote was 3-0, with Mayor Lee Haydu absent and Al Corti recused because he lives within 500 feet of the project area.