A plan to beautify two prominent underpasses in Encinitas is now fully funded, as the City Council unanimously appropriated nearly $200,000 for the project.
The council approved the $192,567 budget addition to pay for the installation of public art along both sides of the Santa Fe Drive and Encinitas Boulevard underpasses, which are currently being overhauled by Caltrans.
At Santa Fe Drive, the project will include 53 panels of 3-foot-by-5-foot mosaic artwork inset into the new walls at eye level. The mosaics will be created by local high school students and local artists, at a cost of $700 per each mosaic, or $37,100.
At Encinitas Boulevard, the city will have professionally made mosaics along four so-called “ground anchor walls,” placed at the on- and off-ramps, at a cost of $155,467.
The City Council unanimously and — in at least one case — emotionally endorsed the plan.
Councilman Tony Kranz said the concept of high school students contributing to a legacy project such as this hit home. His children, who attended San Dieguito High School Academy, lost a close friend who was killed when they were struck by a car driven by another student.
“The idea of making this art about people was pretty important,” Kranz said, thanking San Dieguito arts teacher Jeremy Wright, who had been spearheading the student art component.
Wright, who spoke at the meeting, said that students and local artists have a chance to leave a legacy that generations of Encinitas residents will be able to enjoy.
“We have the potential to create something iconic,” Wright said.
Caltrans’ overhaul of the two underpasses is expected to be completed by late 2019, and will include the creation of space for bike lanes and sidewalks at both freeway intersections.
Staff this fall will start the application process for the Santa Fe Drive interchange and a request for proposals process for the Encinitas Boulevard interchange. The city’s Arts Commission will evaluate all of the submissions and send recommendations to the City Council.