SOLANA BEACH — City officials held a groundbreaking ceremony June 27 for the Highway 101 streetscape project, a $7 million plan Mayor Joe Kellejian said will provide much-needed revitalization, improve the roadway for cyclists and create gathering places for people to enjoy.
“This has been designed in a way so that the community would embrace it,” he said. “It will be a destination for people to live, work and play.”
Project goals include maintaining the existing building scale, slowing traffic and creating a more pedestrian-friendly corridor with easy access to the train station, Cedros Design Center and coastal rail trail, Kellejian said.
Discussions to improve a three-quarter-mile stretch of Coast Highway 101 from Cliff Street south to Dahlia Drive began in the 1990s. A plan was adopted in 2003 and amended in 2006.
Since 2009 the city has held public workshops and meetings and met with property owners to garner input to refine design plans.
At one time the project called for roundabouts and reverse-angle parking but those options were omitted following public and cost concerns.
Improvements will be made in three phases, beginning at Cliff Street and going south to Estrella Street, then moving to Plaza Street and finishing at Dahlia Drive.
The project will feature 11 community gathering places, or themed plazas, that will include low seat walls, benches and colored aggregate and rock in the sidewalk.
Crosswalks will be added at Estrella and Cliff. Midblock crossings with flashing beacons will be installed near the stairs at the train station and between Dahlia and Lomas Santa Fe drives.
New streetlight, traffic signal and rapid-flashing beacon poles will also be included. Twenty-seven angled parking spots will be added, increasing the number of on-street spaces from 77 to 104.
There will also be a shared bike lane and twice as many trees in the medians.
The speed limit will be lowered to 35 mph beginning at Solana Vista Drive. That news will make residents such as Bob Decker happy.
“They really need to slow the traffic down to 35 (mph) from 50, which is how fast most people go,” he said.
Decker lives within walking distance of his job at Do It Yourself Dog Wash and Day Care on the corner of the highway and Plaza Street.
He said he didn’t really have an opinion about other aspects of the project, but as a former cyclist he said he did have concerns about motorists backing into riders in the shared lane.
The project will be funded primarily with an advance from the city’s TransNet revenue. Construction is set to begin anytime and take about 15 months to complete.
Glen Bullock, with contractor Dick Miller Inc., said he only makes promises he can keep. “And I promise there will be times when you wish I wasn’t here, like when construction begins,” he said.
“But I’ll try to minimize the frustration and I promise you’re going to love me when I leave,” Bullock said. “This will be a project that will complement this already beautiful city.”