Traffic light to be added on El Camino Real for ViaSat expansion

Traffic light to be added on El Camino Real for ViaSat expansion
ViaSat and Carlsbad city officials are working to accelerate plans for the satellite and digital communications company to expand. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — ViaSat officials are working with the city to accelerate plans for a new building across the street from their current location, near the corner of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real.

The satellite and digital communications company started in Carlsbad in 1986 and employs about 2,900 people in the city. They are launching a satellite in 2016 to speed up the quality of satellite Internet service, which is why they’re hiring more people and need more space to accommodate them.

“It all started because they have nowhere to put these people,” said Greg Fisher, project planner for the city.

This will be the second satellite the company has launched, after ViaSat 1 launched in 2011.

The building is already under construction and will be accompanied by a new crosswalk, which is still in the planning phase. It will connect the ViaSat building on the west side of El Camino Real to the new building, which will be on the east side of El Camino Real at the corner of Gateway Road.

Plans are underway to add an additional building, next to the one under construction.

According to Mike Peterson, manager of Development Services, the plans are still being finalized but officials at ViaSat hope to have the crosswalk finished by mid-January or possibly earlier.

The company will pay for the construction and maintenance of the traffic light that will go in for the crosswalk, said Peterson.

ViaSat officials are currently fine-tuning the crosswalk plans, pricing it out and looking into different light poles, said Peterson.

City planners are working to minimize traffic disruption, according to Fischer.

He said the crosswalk would not turn green the moment somebody wants to cross.

“We want traffic to keep moving through El Camino Real,” said Fisher.

He said people might need to wait two to three minutes to cross the road. It will likely be synchronized with the left turn lane on Palomar Airport Road going to El Camino Real so cars heading south on El Camino Real would not be affected, according to Peterson.

The city fast tracked plans with ViaSat in order to keep the business in Carlsbad, Christina Vincent, economic development manager, wrote in March.

“For the City of Carlsbad, it was important to help one of our leading businesses without compromising the city’s high standards,” wrote Vincent.

The company wanted the buildings complete in 15 months even though the process normally takes three years, said Vincent.

City planners and ViaSat officials were able to meet in one room during a phase of planning so instead of taking 30 days to approve the building plans, it took nine.

Bob Rota, vice president of Facilities and Security at ViaSat, told the planning commission on May 21 that the company looked into building a bridge as a crosswalk but there were too many issues surrounding it, including a $5 million price tag.

The project never went to city council because the Planning Commission was the discretionary body that can approve projects like this, said Fisher.



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