Roundabouts proposed as part of Birmingham Dr. revamp

Roundabouts proposed as part of Birmingham Dr. revamp
A drawing showing proposed roundabouts on the Birmingham Drive freeway interchange. Image courtesy of Caltrans

ENCINITAS — Plans to revamp a freeway interchange at Birmingham Drive include building a roundabout at both the northbound and southbound Interstate 5 on-ramp.

Along with the roundabouts, the sidewalk on the freeway interchange would be widened, the northbound on-ramp would be reconfigured and a park-and-ride lot in the area would be expanded.

Ed Deane, senior civil engineer with the city, said the roundabouts are designed to improve traffic flow in the area.

With the lack of traffic calming devices on the interchange, cars “sometimes aren’t sure how to proceed,” Deane said.

Not far from Birmingham Drive, another roundabout is proposed at MacKinnon Avenue. Also, the overpass at MacKinnon would be realigned so it’s perpendicular to the freeway.

The projects are part of Caltrans’ $6.5 billion package of freeway, street and rail improvements for the I-5 corridor. Funding would come from a mixture of federal and state sources.

The cost of the two Birmingham roundabouts is loosely estimated at $1.6 million, according to Dean. An estimate for the other improvements could not be obtained by press time.

In August, the California Coastal Commission will decide whether to OK the I-5 package. If approved, work could begin on phase one projects, including the Birmingham roundabouts, as early as next summer. Phase two projects, like adding spaces to the park-and-ride lot, would take place from 2020 to 2030.

Currently, the city is collecting comments from residents at council meetings regarding various parts of the I-5 corridor project. Residents can also email input to the city’s Planning Department at mstrong@encinitasca.gov.

Those comments will be summarized and presented to Caltrans in the next two months.

Based on feedback from the city, Caltrans could alter its I-5 corridor plan prior to going before the Coastal Commission, according to Mike Strong, associate planner with the city.

So far, Strong said the city has received around 30 emails regarding the Birmingham roundabouts. Most have been in favor.

Tess Radmill, executive director of Cardiff 101 Main Street, noted the Cardiff 101 board voted to support the roundabouts on Tuesday.

She said the roundabouts would likely alleviate buildup on Birmingham during peak traffic hours.

Also, Radmill added the plan to widen the sidewalk to 12 feet on both sides of the interchange would improve walkability.

“It’s tough to walk in the area right now because there’s not much sidewalk,” Radmill said.

Cardiff 101 also looks forward to other traffic-calming improvements on Villa Cardiff, she added.

Resident Barbara Cobb said currently not many are aware of the proposed roundabouts.

“My hope is more people become aware and make their feelings known,”  Cobb said.

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