DEL MAR — Plans to improve sidewalks throughout the city moved a few steps forward at the Feb. 18 meeting when council members unanimously approved a contract to design the remaining segments of the project and adopted resolutions needed to finance the work.
The city has identified about $4.2 million in sidewalk, street and drainage projects that were initially slated to be funded by allocating about $300,000 annually.
The work was broken down into several segments, but they couldn’t be easily divided into $300,000 increments. That fact, combined with a desire to get the work done sooner, prompted council to finance the project.
A plan offered by the San Diego Association of Governments allows cities to borrow money —$3 million in this case — and use their annual allotment of TransNet funds to make payments.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful idea,” Mayor Lee Haydu said. “The money’s out there. Interest rates are low. Let’s move ahead.”
TransNet is a voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation projects.
Designs for sidewalks along Camino del Mar in the Beach Colony from 22nd Street to the San Dieguito River Bridge are already complete, with groundbreaking set for mid-March.
Nasland Engineering was awarded a $600,000 contract to design the rest of the project, which includes several sections of Camino del Mar, Jimmy Durante Boulevard and Via de la Valle.
Original plans called for a sidewalk on the east side of Camino del Mar from the bridge to Via de la Valle, but those were scrapped because a sidewalk was constructed on the west side of the roadway.
Six firms responded to a request for proposals and three were interviewed. The contract went to Nasland, which designed plans for improvements along Coast Highway 101 in Solana Beach, a project council members in that city funded with the same SANDAG plan.
Detailed plans for the Beach Colony improvements were available during an open house at Powerhouse Community Center on Feb. 19.
The $963,000 project includes 2,800 feet of new curbs and gutters, 12,000 square feet of sidewalks on both sides of Camino del Mar, street paving, 20 pedestrian ramps for wheelchair and stroller access and underground storm drain infrastructure at 27th Street.
An extensive outreach program to better inform residents in the area included on-site visits and neighborhood meetings. Eric Minicilli, Public Works director, said most of the concerns were about how the sidewalks would meander, which trees would be removed and how it will affect drainage since flooding in the area can be a problem.
“It won’t solve all the drainage problems,” Minicilli said. “There’s only so much money that can be spent. And we’re only working along Camino del Mar, not any of the other streets. But this will have a positive impact on drainage.”
Minicilli said one of the biggest problems is the roadway is extremely flat. “Water doesn’t flow anywhere. It just tends to hang around.”
Other concerns were speeding and motorists running stop signs. City Manager Scott Huth said the project will narrow the lanes, which should slow traffic, and include bulb-outs and signage.
Work will begin at 7 a.m. and continue throughout the day until about 4 or 5 p.m. weekdays and some Saturdays “to keep moving forward,” Huth said. “We have a very hard deadline.”
The contractor was told all roadwork must be done by Memorial Day. There will be traffic delays, road closures and detours during construction. Some parking spaces will be blocked at times.
Minicilli said so far the response has been positive. “Let’s hope they keep that positive frame of mind when the work starts,” he said.