CARLSBAD — A long awaited construction project is nearing completion.
Drivers along El Camino Real have endured clogged traffic and lane closures since late 2014, according to city officials.
However, the segment between Tamarack and Chestnut avenues is slated to finish at the end of this month, while the final stretch south of Tamarack will be completed in early 2017.
During last week’s city council meeting, Mayor Matt Hall responded to a resident’s question of the long-lasting project. He noted the projects, one by the city and the other by the developer of Robertson Ranch, are close to completion.
This week, the city released an update on its website regarding the state of the two projects.
The city-led project north of Tamarack is on schedule to finish this month, while the Robertson Ranch work will cease next year. Numerous delays pushed the completion date back several months, according to Associate Engineer and Project Manager Brandon Miles.
According to the city, upgrades included additional lanes, safety features for bicycle lanes and pedestrians and underground recycled water pipelines to deliver the commodity.
The city and private developers are working on separate projects to widen El Camino Real to three lanes in each direction and make other improvements to bring the roadway up to modern standards.
The city’s portion of the project includes new traffic signals with modern technology to improve traffic flow; new sidewalks on both sides of the street; widened bicycle lanes; new curbs and gutters; a new drainage system addressing pollutants’ effects on the nearby lagoon and ocean; a raised median with low water use plants; and burying the overhead power lines to beautify the road and make it safer.
“Given that we faced some unexpected challenges once construction got underway, we really focused on getting things wrapped up as quickly and painlessly as we could,” Miles said. “We prepare for a certain amount of potential delays, but this project had a few more than its share.”
According to Miles, the project team encountered geological, drainage and ground water challenges, as well as finding cultural resources at the construction site. The city brought on geologists and archaeologists to assist the project team in addressing these issues.
The city also decided to add recycled water pipes to the area, taking advantage of the road construction.
Widening El Camino Real to six lanes will ease traffic, which surveys show is one of residents’ top concerns. The improvements also conform with the California Complete Streets Act and the “mobility element” of the recently updated General Plan.
The mobility element is a series of policies to address how people move throughout the city, using all travel modes, not just vehicles.
The Toll Brothers company, who is developing Robertson Ranch, is expected to complete similar improvements to the segment of El Camino Real south of Tamarack to Cannon Road. Under the city’s Growth Management Program, developers are required to make improvements to roads and other infrastructure to help ensure new building doesn’t negatively affect the city’s quality of life.
The Robertson Ranch project is one of the last master planned neighborhoods to be built in this part of Carlsbad, according to the housing caps outlined in the Growth Management Plan.
On Tuesday, the City Council will consider contract amendments that bring the total cost to $15.7 million. The project is funded primarily through Carlsbad’s share of the gas tax and the San Diego Association of Government’s (SANDAG) “Transnet” program, which is funded by a half cent increase in the region’s sales tax that funds transportation projects.