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Carlsbad shoreline project
The Carlsbad Traffic and Mobility Commission heard a presentation during its Feb. 7 meeting regarding the realignment of Carlsbad Boulevard from Manzano Drive to La Costa Avenue. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Traffic Commission discusses Carlsbad Boulevard realignment

CARLSBAD — The potential eastward realignment of a three-mile stretch of Carlsbad Boulevard from the city’s southern border with Encinitas to Manzano Drive is a hot topic among residents and planners.

The Carlsbad Traffic and Mobility Commission heard a presentation during its Feb. 7 meeting regarding the South Carlsbad Coastline Project as part of the city’s decade-old vision to free up open space for other uses.

As part of the larger project, Scripps Institute of Oceanography will be studying the impacts of sea-level rise and possible realignment of a one-mile stretch from Manzano Drive — adjacent to the Terramar neighborhood — to Island Way through a $458,075 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

The research facility plans to present conceptual design options to the Carlsbad City Council in August, according to Nikki Matosian, the city’s community relations manager, but the overall project won’t be finished until Feb. 2023.

Gary Barberio, deputy city manager of community services, said the one-mile stretch would open 15 acres, while the available acreage for the three miles totals 60 acres. All of the land in the project scope is owned by the city. As for what would call the open space home, Matosian said the city’s public outreach campaign has gathered numerous ideas.

“The grant coincides with the overall project,” Barberio said. “Carlsbad Boulevard was built as a freeway for the car and not for everybody else. There was an opportunity to realign it, the southbound lanes to the east and free up the land to the west for whatever it is the community wanted to see there. It would make it more friendly to all forms of travel.”

Carlsbad shoreline project map
A map depicting the realignment area of Carlsbad Boulevard. Graphic courtesy of City of Carlsbad

Barberio said the vision for the three-mile stretch of coastline began more than 10 years ago as the city has been looking at ways to provide more bike and pedestrian lanes, access to the beaches, parkland and natural habitat for open space and parking.

According to Barberio, no land-use or zoning decisions will be made until after the city’s public outreach campaign has concluded in several weeks and design options are presented to the council.

During the Traffic and Mobility Commission meeting, Commissioner Pete Penseyres said he wants to see the project completed sooner rather than later.

“(It is important for) The movement of the road to the east and open up that area for public use,” Penseyres said. “This is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time.”

Vice-Chairman Steve Linke said he would not want large-scale developments, such as hotels, on the freed-up land. Additionally, Linke, Barberio and Matosian all said the roadway redesign could include several options, such as one lane in each direction.

Linke said reducing the number of lanes could have impacts, although he noted each option will have a corresponding study about impacts and mitigation.

Matosian said the two bridges — at Encinas Creek and Batiquitos Lagoon — will also have to be addressed.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback and it ranges from ‘leaving it as it is’ to ‘we want access,'” Matosian said. “I think the things that people enjoy the view, enjoying the natural beauty and a gem that makes Carlsbad unique. And it would be great to bike safely on that whole stretch of land.”

A portion of the roadway has sustained damage on at least two previous occasions. In 2015, massive waves eroded 300 to 400 feet of the bluff near the Encinas Creek Bridge and Island Way, forcing months of construction and the installation of two- and four-ton boulders to mitigate erosion.

The city closed a quarter-mile stretch of one southbound lane as at one point the road was just feet away from an eroded sand wall.

In 2010, a winter storm south of the bridge led to the relocation of a sewer line and lift station, according to a Coast News story.

To participate visit the city’s website to take the survey.