Plans to narrow Coast Highway to two lanes shared

Plans to narrow Coast Highway to two lanes shared
Tuesday’s open house allowed one-on-one Q&A on highway changes. A City Council workshop on the road will be held April 13. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Close to 100 Oceanside residents and business owners took a look at plans to narrow Coast Highway to two lanes and add bike lanes along the road on March 15.

Charts shared background on the 2009 highway Vision Plan, 2013 traffic studies and planned block-by-block improvements.

Maps split the highway into five sections and illustrated how stretches of the road would include parking, turn lanes and widen to four lanes at major intersections. Nine roundabouts and four traffic lights are part of plans.

City staff and project traffic and civil engineering consultants fielded one-on-one questions.

City traffic, engineering and planning staff said they heard a mix of reactions to proposed plans. Residents had concerns, such as could fire trucks quickly get to emergencies on either end of the two lane highway. Kudos were also shared.

“Residents are curious about what it means to traffic,” John Amberson, city project manager said. “Comments are across the board.”

Todd Quinn, of Oceanside, lives between Oceanside Boulevard and Morse Street. He said he came to look at plans with an open mind, but thinks reducing the four-lane highway to two lanes will slow traffic to a halt and push cars onto residential side streets.

“I don’t see it right now,” Quinn said.

Business owners Kim Millwood, owner of That Boy Good restaurant, and Grant Tondro, owner of Urge Gastropub, favored planned road improvements.

“They’re preparing to take the next leap forward as a city,”  Tondro said.

Tondro, whose business is on South Coast Highway, said he likes the idea of increasing bike safety on the highway, which currently lacks continuous bike lanes.

“I really love the bike lane,” Tondro said. “We had 18 to 20 bicyclists in on Saturday.”

Millwood, whose business is located on Coast Highway in the heart of downtown, said she applauds slowing down traffic, which increases walking, biking and business visibility.

Daniel Peña and Emma Schoppe, of Oceanside, live adjacent to Coast Highway off of Oceanside Boulevard. They each wrote a lengthy page of support for highway plans on comment cards.

Peña said road improvements will allow residents to safely get to downtown by bike.

“I support the plan, it’s a step in the right direction,” Peña said.

Others who attended the open house said they too would be writing down their comments.

City staff will present the project and community input to City Council at a workshop on April 13.

If the City Council gives staff direction to move forward with road improvements, environmental reviews could be gained by summer, council final approval reached by fall, and roadwork begin by early 2017.

The city is already moving forward with a pilot program to make improvements to the highway between Oceanside Boulevard and Morse Street, which is considered the busiest stretch of the road.

Coastal Commission approval of the pilot project is expected this week. Re-striping the road to two lanes of vehicle traffic, and wider bike lanes would follow within a month.


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