Lomas Santa Fe Corridor project moves forward

Lomas Santa Fe Corridor project moves forward
Solana Beach is moving forward with Phase III of the Lomas Santa Fe Corridor Improvement project, which aims to make the thoroughfare safer and more palatable for pedestrians and bicyclists. After a wave of opposition caused an early roundabout option to be stricken from the project, the design team will be sticking to four lanes in drafting its final plan. Photo by Lexy Brodt

SOLANA BEACH — The city is moving forward with a plan to revitalize the Lomas Santa Fe Corridor, this time with a baseline parameter of no roundabouts and four lanes.

The project — intended to improve the bike- and walk-ability of the two-mile corridor — entered the limelight in August after a barrage of opposition from residents ended all early discussions of installing four roundabouts along the eastern portion of the corridor.

On Feb. 13, the City Council gave staff the green light to move forward with Phase III of the project, approving a professional services agreement with Michael Baker International as design consultants on the project and appropriating a $616,050 SANDAG grant to be spent on said phase.

A project to revitalize Lomas Santa Fe Drive initially proposed two plans – a striping option and a roundabout option – the latter of which has now been removed from future consideration. The striping option would involve installing medians and restriping the roadway. Visual courtesy of City of Solana Beach

Michael Baker International has been the city’s consultant for the first two phases of the project, which kicked off in 2017.

A number of potential design elements have been proposed for the project, such as buffered bike lanes, raised medians, a pocket park along Stevens Avenue, and a multi-use trail on the north side of the corridor.

Early project plans offered two options: a restriped roadway with medians that would maintain all four lanes, or a roundabout option which would install four, one-lane roundabouts along a portion of Lomas Santa Fe Drive, east of the I-5.

However, the roundabout option drew fierce ire when it was presented in the summer of 2018, with hundreds of residents sending in comments to the city opposing the plan.

Dozens attended the City Council meetings in August and September holding “No Roundabout” signs, and some formed a group called Residents Opposed to All Roundabouts (ROAR) — complete with customized T-shirts and hats.

In response, council passed a resolution in September to eliminate the roundabout option from consideration, instructing staff to move forward with a project that would maintain all four lanes on Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

The intent of Phase III is to realize the project’s final engineering plans and specifications, yielding a “shovel-ready project,” according to City Engineer Mo Sammak.

Phase II of the project involved a feasibility analysis, the development of design options through community outreach and feedback, as well as the collection of comment cards from residents.

Phase III will send consultants back to the drawing board, intuiting additional council recommendations to consider extending the potential multi-use trail along the north side of the corridor further west, introducing more landscaping, and allowing Homeowners Associations to connect with the recycled water line that runs down the road, according to the city’s staff report.

Council also instructed staff to improve project outreach efforts. Phase III of the project will include four community workshops, two council meetings and two additional stakeholder meetings organized by the design team.

“Council was very clear about the outreach program, so we took it to heart and we will definitely follow through,” Sammak said.

Council and staff reiterated their intent to begin with a baseline of no roundabouts and four lanes of traffic. Councilwoman Kelly Harless expressed concern that the city’s website still made reference to the initial roundabout option.

“I can understand someone in the public having concerns with what is the starting point,” she said, proposing that staff make the early parameters of the project “very clear.”

Phase III’s scope of work will also include right of way mapping, utility coordination and obtaining outside agency permits.

The city will be providing a matching $68,450 for the third phase, out of its TransNet funds.

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