ENCINITAS — The long-awaited and debated Streetscape project stretching the length of Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia has arrived.
On Nov. 17, the City of Encinitas and SANDAG representatives held a virtual community open house reporting on both Phase 1 of Leucadia Streetscape, breaking ground in early 2021, and the El Portal Undercrossing project, which is scheduled to begin construction prior to the new year.
Because of the projects’ physical proximity and coinciding timelines, SANDAG and the City of Encinitas’ staffs jointly provided details on each project’s background, construction schedules, environmental impacts and answering public questions (Presentation slides, FAQ, and contact information shared in the presentation can be found at sandag.mysocialpinpoint.com/ElPortal).
According to SANDAG representatives, the El Portal Undercrossing, located East of El Portal Street, connects Vulcan Avenue and N. Coast Highway 101, providing pedestrians and cyclists a method of crossing the tracks.
The undercrossing will include ADA-compliant sidewalks, improvements controlling erosion and flooding, landscaping similar to the Santa Fe Undercrossing in Cardiff, as well as a new rail bridge allowing a second, future railroad track.
Lasting 18 months, construction on the undercrossing will begin next month and will be completed in the spring of 2022, costing a total of $8.9 million, paid by the State of California’s Active Transportation Program as well as budgeted city funding.
Construction will occur between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., causing periodic lane closures on Highway 101 and Vulcan Avenue as well as adjacent parking and bike lanes.
According to SANDAG, the undercrossing will not result in any additional taxes on city residents, who will be kept informed through flyers, emails, social media, as well as the project website.
As presented by the City of Encinitas, Phase 1 of the Leucadia Streetscape project will commence in early 2021, stretching from Marcheta Street north to Basil Street along Highway 101.
Similar to the El Portal Undercrossing, construction will occur between regular business hours, last 18 months and impact road and lane closures. The city said that access to homes, businesses, and schools will be protected throughout construction.
The organizations working on Phase 1 include the city, Michael Baker International as project design, Granite Construction as a construction contractor, Psomas as construction manager, JPW Communications as supporting public outreach and MWP+A as landscape design.
Phase 1 will include the installation of a roundabout at El Portal street in conjunction with SANDAG’s El Portal Undercrossing project, new bike lanes and wider sidewalks, increased street lighting, landscaping, stormwater treatment and crosswalks.
Since its inception, Leucadia Streetscape has not been without critics, taking front stage in the 2020 Encinitas mayoral and City Council elections and prompting a debate regarding the financial impacts of the 2.5-mile-long project.
Costing $7.7 million, the project is an extension of the Downtown Streetscape construction completed in 2003. In 2010, according to the city, the Encinitas City Council first approved the Leucadia Streetscape concept, conducting community outreach and project studies for eight years. In October 2018, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved the project.
In August, the City Council approved construction plans and in October awarded the final construction contract to Granite Construction.
As both projects are set to begin within months of each other, according to the city, the two project teams will coordinate construction logistics as well as communication and outreach with the public.
For further information on either project visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/EncinitasPedCrossings or encinitasca.gov/streetscape, call 769-512-3800, email [email protected] and [email protected], or view the El Portal online FAQ and Leucadia Streetscape online FAQ.