Open House shares 3 roadway improvement options

OCEANSIDE — The Coast Highway Corridor Study Open House on Thursday was seeking community input on three preliminary options for highway improvements.

A no build option will keep Coast Highway a four-lane road.

Alternative 1 follows the 2009 Coast Highway Vision Plan and narrows the highway to two lanes. It also adds bike lanes, possible roundabouts, left turn lanes and landscaped medians.

Alternative 2 is a hybrid plan that retains four lanes at the intersections of Mission Avenue, Oceanside Boulevard, and Vista Way to accommodate freeway access, and slims the rest of road to two lanes. It includes all the improvements of Alternative 1.

Landscaping, and some sidewalk resurfacing will be done with all three options.

The sought after outcome is to help traffic flow smoothly, ensure safety for bicycles and pedestrians, and ease access to Oceanside’s Transit Center.

Alternatives 1 and 2 would achieve this, and slow highways speeds by about 5 miles per hour.

A no build option would keep the road geared to automobile traffic.

John Amberson, city project manager, said the three options are preliminary, and community feedback is being sought to fine tune plans.

“There’s a chance all this can change,” Amberson said. “It’s not in stone at this point.”

During Thursday’s open forum residents can review plans, converse, and ask project staff one-on-one questions.

“We want to make sure we are sufficiently engaging stakeholders and gathering input,” Russ Cunningham, city senior planner, said. “We don’t want to rush the project at the expense of public input.”

Oceanside started to take a closer look at Coast Highway over a decade ago, when SANDAG asked San Diego County cities to implement a Smart Growth plan for local roadways in the early 2000s.

Smart Growth addresses the rising population and more people on the road. It encourages all modes of transportation, and therefore helps reduce emissions and greenhouse gas.

Oceanside adopted the Smart Growth initiative and created the Coast Highway Vision Plan six years ago. The plan pinpoints four high use commercial, retail nodes along the highway, which demand additional parking and more accommodations for pedestrians and bicycles. It also calls for high quality design and retaining the eclectic character of the city.

From there a corridor traffic study was conducted in 2013.

Over the last 15 months city staff have worked with transportation agencies, a stakeholders committee, met with business owners and developers, and held community meetings to form the three options on the table.

Corridor improvements are in the planning stage.

Following Thursday’s meeting city staff will modify options and take updated plans through another round of steering committee and community meeting input, before seeking direction from City Council. Once direction is given final plans will go through a formal public review process.

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