CARLSBAD — A major upgrade to one of the city’s more highly trafficked intersections is moving forward.
The City Council approved a Capital Improvement Program project July 23 to address the eastbound lanes of Palomar Airport Road between Interstate 5 and Paseo Del Norte.
The project will upgrade the left turn lane on Palomar Airport Road going north on Paseo Del Norte and add a dedicated right turn lane for the southbound lane on Paseo Del Norte.
“We’re looking to improve traffic operations at that intersection,” said Daniel Zimny, an associate engineer and project manager for the city. “The I-5 off ramp … backs up considerably and the three through lanes on Palomar Airport Road back up. We’re looking to extend the left turn lane to maximize queuing capacity.”
The cost of the project is estimated at $996,463 with Just Construction, Inc., being awarded the bid.
The left turn lane will add 175 feet to the west by removing a portion of the concrete median, while the right turn lane will be 250 feet in length, according to the staff report.
The intersection is one of the busiest in the city, especially during rush hour, as it leads to numerous business parks east of I-5. Zimny said all work will be done during evening hours from Sundays through Fridays.
Zimny and Valerie Airey, the municipal projects manager, are overseeing the project. Zimny said designs began in 2016 out of a need to improve traffic flow and relieve congestion from the I-5 off ramp.
“There will be no physical improvements to the bridge,” he said.
“Access to the intersection will be maintained during construction,” Airey added. “There will be different traffic controls for different phases, but people will still be able to get through the intersection. There may be delays due to construction, but access will still be provided.”
The project is still in the pre-construction phase and once the notice to proceed is issued, it will take 70 days to complete.
Currently, the eastbound lanes feature two left turn lanes and three through lanes, but the city will move a portion of the south sidewalk to add the right turn lane, along with a bike lane, Airey said.
In addition, a new traffic signal will be installed, but the intersection will not be without a traffic light, Airey said. Zimny said the city will modify the signal timing and with those upgrades, improve traffic flow and relieve congestion.
“There will be a new bike lane segment … and bikes are currently sharing that No. 3 lane,” Zimny said. “The improvements will help vehicle and bicycle mobility elements and be a benefit across the board.”
The project will begin with the left turn lane improvements followed by the right turn lane addition, Zimny said. In addition, other striping from the southbound lane of Paseo Del Norte north of the intersection will be included to improve traffic for those motorists turning right toward I-5 and the beach, he said.
“That will help that traffic flow and queuing for that intersection,” Zimny said.
Photo Caption: The eastbound lanes of Palomar Airport Road at Paseo Del Norte will undergo upgrades in the next several months to alleviate congestion. Photo by Steve Puterski
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.