A view from just north of A Street on Coast Highway 101. The city will design the first phase of the Leucadia streetscape, from A Street to North Court along Coast Highway 101. Photo by Jared Whitlock

Encinitas to begin design of first streetscape phase

ENCINITAS — At Wednesday night’s meeting, council members unanimously approved a $759,300 contract to with RBF Consulting to start designing the first portion of the Leucadia streetscape. 

In 2010, the City Council approved the first phase of the streetscape, which calls for revamping Coast Highway 101 from A Street to North Court. Planting trees, adding parking spaces and putting in sidewalks as well as other traffic-calming measures on the corridor are a part of the plan. Not to mention, roundabouts are going on La Costa Avenue for the streetscape.

Several residents at the meeting asked the city to reconsider the streetscape, taking issue with the roundabouts and raising concerns about parking being eliminated. But council members said they had no plans to undo the previous City Council action.

“I fully support the streetscape,” Mayor Teresa Barth said, adding that roundabouts slow down traffic, yet keep it moving.

For the contract, the City Council had the option of spending an additional $366,000 to design the entire streetscape, from A Street to La Costa Avenue, all at once.

Ed Deane, a senior civil engineer with the city, said doing so would increase the likelihood of the city receiving grant funding, because it would be “shovel ready.” And planning the project all in one go would capitalize on project momentum.

On the other hand, he said the option could risk duplication if parts of the project were delayed.

“If future phases of the project were delayed, you may have to go back in because of changes in standards, changes in development along the corridor — you would maybe have to redesign portions,” Deane said.

Barth concurred with that reasoning, noting: “We would probably find ourselves redoing some of our work,” she said.

Because of new priorities at North County Transit District as well as SANDAG, the city should consult those agencies and design the streetscape in pieces, she said.

Councilmembers also said that the entire streetscape should be built in conjunction with planned projects like the El Portal rail undercrossing and the Leucadia coastal rail trail.

In the end, council members decided to hold off on using the $366,000 for the streetscape until another day.

Deane said the city has set aside about $5 million for the streetscape so far.

Those funds come from TransNet, which is revenue from a countywide sales tax that’s allocated to cities for transit projects.

According to a 2010 estimate, building the first phase of the streetscape is projected to cost $7.1 million.

With the contract in place, RBF consulting will draw up environmental studies, cost estimates and construction plans for the first phase of the streetscape over the next year and a half. It will also make sure the design fits within coastal commission guidelines.