The Coast News Group
Area residents have long complained about the lack of a sidewalk along the west side of Highland Drive, next to the golf course. Council members recently awarded a contract for an improvement project that will add a curb, gutter and sidewalk to this section of the roadway. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

Contract awarded for Highland improvements

SOLANA BEACH — After approximately four years of discussions and more than a year of planning, a project aimed at slowing traffic and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety at the eastern gateway to the city is moving forward. 

City Council at the Oct. 10 meeting awarded a $285,780 contract to PAL General Engineering Inc. for improvements on Highland and Lomas Santa Fe drives.

“It’s a great project,” Councilman Mike Nichols said. “This project has had a pretty long history. It started off with a much more comprehensive traffic-calming program.

“(The residents) didn’t quite want that much work done so we listened,” he said. “We got a project together here that I think truly is going to calm traffic, add parking and get that sidewalk on Highland that everybody’s wanted.”

For years area residents expressed concerns about speeding cars and a lack of sidewalks along the roads. Council began to address the project in 2008 and identified funding in 2010.

City staff developed conceptual plans before hiring a consultant in October 2010 to develop design alternatives.

In April 2011 plans were presented that included temporarily restriping Lomas Santa Fe to reduce it from four lanes to two from Las Banderas Drive to Highland.

“We took the project to the homeowner association in the east side of the city,” City Engineer Mo Sammak said. “It was very clear to us that the community did not want to see any work on Lomas Santa Fe so we removed the work on Lomas Santa Fe.”

Although council members supported the lane reduction, they unanimously approved a revised plan at the March 14 meeting that eliminated that traffic-calming element.

The project was advertised for one month beginning this past August and 11 bids ranging from $285,780 to $461,034.90 were received, with PAL’s being the lowest.

Plans on Highland from Sun Valley Road to Lomas Santa Fe include adding a curb, gutter and sidewalk along the west side next to the golf course; widening the east side to add a bike lane south of the San Dieguito Park entrance; replacing an asphalt berm on the east side with a concrete curb; and restriping to add a two-way left-turn median lane.

Painted medians and bike lanes will be added on Highland from Lomas Santa Fe to Via La Senda.

A raised median island and curb ramp pop-outs will be built on Lomas Santa Fe west of Highland.

Ladder-type crosswalks will be added on Highland at the intersections of Sun Valley, Lomas Santa Fe and Via La Senda.

If funding allows, a retaining wall may be built west of the proposed sidewalk on Highland.

Pavement slurry sealing and raised medians on Highland between Uno Verde Court and Via La Senda may also be added.

With a 15 percent contingency of $43,000 and $29,000 for inspections and testing the total estimated project cost is $357,780.

The city has $403,100 available from stimulus, state and TransNet funds.