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City presents La Costa Avenue Improvement Plan

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad residents and stakeholders gathered inside the Stagecoach Community Center June 23 for its last community meeting and workshop for the La Costa Improvement Plan hosted by the city of Carlsbad.
Built from the ideas of previous community input, the final meeting offered a recap and specific conceptualized draft plan with photo simulations of multiple new features for La Costa Avenue between the areas of El Camino Real and Rancho Santa Fe Road. The project is expected to cost $3 million.
“The City Council wanted us to develop a cost effective, community-preferred plan to address traffic safety on La Costa Avenue and a way to respect the residential character and arterial function of the roadway,” said Consultant Pat Noyes of Pat Noyes and Associates. “We are looking at slowing speeds and increasing safety on the roadway and that is a very important part of what we are trying to do.”
Noyes said this particular portion of La Costa Avenue was challenging since it’s a secondary arterial with residential frontage.
Step by step, Noyes led the audience through a PowerPoint presentation and highlighted important project aspects. She wanted people to know that the draft plan took emergency response teams into consideration so there would be no impediment to La Costa Avenue and its surrounding areas.
The La Costa Avenue Improvement Plan would also incorporate bike and pedestrian friendly environments, she said.
Residents have often requested a speed limit reduction in this locale. Noyes said the laws don’t work that way and are not enforceable.
“The bottom line is if we want to slow the speeds on La Costa Avenue we need to do something that actually causes the drivers to drive more slowly, and when we do that, the police officers can actually enforce the lower speeds,” she said. “Whatever we do, we want it to be enforceable.”
Roundabouts have been desirable not only to this project but to the Federal Highway Administration. Noyes said roundabouts improve safety, reduce speeds and offer low maintenance.
The current draft plan shows roundabouts at Nueva Castilla Way and Romeria Street. In addition to roundabouts, the draft plan shows a reduction to one lane each way on the La Costa Avenue roadway between El Camino Real and Rancho Santa Fe Road; install medians both west and east of Viejo Castilla Way; construct curb extensions; and, build missing sidewalks.
Doug Bilse, senior traffic engineer at the city of Carlsbad, said reducing the roadway to one lane for each side might slow traffic down.
“There may be a little more congestion, but its part of the cost to improve our safety and safety is the number one thing,” he said. “Going down to one lane in each direction is not consistent with the current General Plan circulation element, so we are in the process right now of updating our General Plan and it will eventually come out as a new circulation element.”
Bilse said it might take a couple of years before the updated General Plan is adopted by City Council.
After Noyes’ presentation, community members branched off to different areas viewing large displayed draft plans and picture simulations. They were invited to submit additional comments and feedback.
Since the La Costa Avenue Improvement Plan will be financially driven as well as folded into an updated General Plan, the project may begin in the next two years. But until then, the process will move forward.