VISTA — Starting this year, some major streets in Vista will see speed humps and the city’s first-ever protected bike lanes implemented after the City Council allocated around $1.9 million toward needed infrastructure projects at its Tuesday meeting.
Around $1.7 million in Regional Transportation Congestion Improvement Program funds will go toward designated bike lanes, separated from vehicle traffic with flexible delineator posts, at eight locations throughout the city.
The City Council also approved using the full $213,000 balance of the city’s traffic impact fee fund for the implementation of speed humps at high-speed streets throughout Vista, including Alta Vista Drive, Eucalyptus Avenue, Highland Drive and Vale View Drive.
This covers just a portion of the laundry list of needed traffic calming measures presented by engineering officials, including roundabouts, new sidewalks, all-way stops and raised medians at seven different main streets, with total costs estimated at over $7 million.
City officials and residents alike said all of these measures are needed to prevent reckless speeding from drivers who are not heeding signage and other warnings. Over the past five years, Vista has experienced 48 bike collisions, 91 pedestrian collisions resulting in injuries, and 13 fatal pedestrian collisions, according to city data.
“In the time that we had our first traffic calming discussion not too long ago to today, one of the priority streets on Taylor has already seen a fatality. So we need to act appropriately to the problem that’s at hand, and that’s the complete lawlessness that we’re seeing from drivers,” said Councilmember Corinna Contreras.
One of the sites to receive speed humps is Alta Vista Drive between Vale Terrace Place and Coventry Road, a curving 20-foot-wide roadway, with no curbs or sidewalks, that has been a source of numerous complaints and accidents.
Christina and Eric Gulino said since they’ve moved to their Alta Vista Drive home, there have been three accidents due to high speeds on their street that required police or fire department response, with trees so far preventing vehicles from coming onto their property.
The Gulinos said that accidents are going to keep happening, and they and their neighbors do not find the street safe to walk on anymore. Speed humps, they said, can help to slow cars down.
“It’s statistically just a matter of time until one of these cars doesn’t hit the tree, and it ends up in our living room or our neighbor’s living room, and then we’re looking at something far more serious than just a scratch on the road,” said Eric Gulino.
City staff said they will continue seeking funding for additional projects along priority roads identified on Tuesday. The city tried and failed twice to obtain grant funding for traffic calming projects on Vale Terrace Drive, where staff has proposed implementing two roundabouts, one at the intersection with Vale Terrace Place and another at Williamson, along with the addition of sidewalks and an all-way stop.
“Hopefully we can find the money for these projects very soon and get them all done,” said Councilmember Joe Green.
The first protected bike lanes in the city are set to go in at the following segments:
– North Melrose Drive from Olive Avenue and Ascot drive
– South Melrose Drive from Breeze Hill Road/Matagual Drive down to the southern city limits
– North Santa Fe Avenue from Vista Village Drive to Bobier Drive
– The entire length of Vista Village Drive
– East Vista Way from Civic Center Drive to Bobier Avenue
– Bobier Drive from East Vista Way to North Santa Fe Avenue
– Civic Center Drive from Eucalyptus Avenue to Ocean View Drive
City Traffic Engineer Sam Hasenin said flexible delineators, bendable plastic poles that last around 20 years, were the cheapest option for bike safety lanes compared to metal poles or raised asphalt berms, the latter of which would cost an additional $450,000.
However, Councilmember Katie Melendez and Contreras said they would like to see the city work toward implementing more solid protections for bikers, noting that the flexible poles would not stop cars from passing into the lanes.
Resident Danny Garcia, who spoke during public comment, agreed.
“I feel like investing now, even if it is more expensive and more time, into proper infrastructure for biking will be better for our future generations and for the long run,” Garcia said.
At Contreras’s suggestion, the council directed staff to bring back another discussion in the future about adding asphalt berms as additional protection for bike lanes.
The same night, the council also adopted a Vision Zero resolution committing to ending fatalities on city streets.