CARLSBAD — Mobility is a priority for the city, especially in Carlsbad Village and Barrio neighborhoods.
The recently passed Village and Barrio Master Plan outlines numerous concepts and proposals to increase pedestrian, cycling and vehicle safety. The plan also lays out ideas for a Grand Avenue promenade and numerous street connections across the railroad tracks and under Interstate 5 at Grand Avenue.
Other priorities include trenching the railroad tracks; although the City Council has made it a goal of the city regardless of the master plan, adding roundabouts and bulb-outs to slow turns at intersections in the Barrio, as well as other traffic calming measures and pedestrian improvements.
Mobility and easy in-and-out access to the neighborhoods will come in several phases, in addition to other aspects of the plan, which range between one to six years.
“A next step for this project is we got this phasing plan and how do we implement it,” Carlsbad Senior Planner Scott Donnell said.
Walkways and streetscape
Creating livable streets is a priority and one call to action is designs for pedestrians.
For example, the plan calls for all sidewalks to have a minimum width of 5 feet. For high-foot-traffic areas, more than 5 feet is preferred, schools at least 6 feet and primary commercial streets call for 10 feet.
Crosswalks are another point, where the plan calls for additional measures to increase slower traffic and handle more foot traffic. One proposal is to incorporate more pedestrian “scrambles,” crosswalks with diagonal pathways like the one at Carlsbad Village Drive and Carlsbad Boulevard.
Including the arts and culture into the streetscape with large-scale works, wayfinding signs, temporary art, points of interest and neighbor artwork is another focal point for residents and the city.
Also, lighting sidewalks throughout the Village and Barrio is a concern among residents and a focus for the city. Residents have lobbied for more lighting, especially in the Barrio to enhance safety at night.
“Lighting should only be considered after the city carefully studies and consults with adjacent property owners and residents due to the potential for undesirable light and glare,” the plan reads. “The city should consider a pilot project on one block of an alleyway to help determine appropriate lighting and neighborhood reaction.”
Bike paths and traffic
Thousands of residents and visitors take to the streets each year on bikes. Residents who have spoken during public meetings have voiced their concerns for more safety and distance between bikes and vehicles in many areas.
Proposals call for miles of improved bike lanes throughout the Village and Barrio with several different concepts, one being a cycle track. A cycle track offers a protected bike lane separate from motorists by a median or something similar.
The bike paths, though, would be implemented where space and logistics allow.
For safety measures, the plan details recommendations for bike boxes at intersections to allow cyclists a head start. In addition, bicycle signal prioritization is also an option incorporating bike boxes to allow cyclists to safely get across an intersection before motorists.
For motorists, the city has laid out a concept for nine bulb-outs, eight traffic circles and a shared space intersection in the Barrio.
“I think the big benefit for Barrio residents … it’s more in the vision regarding traffic safety and improvements for pedestrians,” Donnell said. “Lighting, better sidewalks and ways for slowing cars is all laid out here. That’s really one of the major components of this plan that truly reflects what residents wanted.”
Grand Avenue promenade, street connections
A possibility is floating for creating a Grand Avenue promenade, which would turn the eastbound lane into a walkable area. Sidewalks would be 32 feet wide and include a cycle track with a median separating drive-thru traffic from the promenade.
The westbound lane, which is already two lanes, would feature one lane in each direction. Motorists traveling north from Carlsbad Village Drive, though, would still be able to turn at various traffic lights intersecting with the promenade.
The plan also looks at the potential for a Grand Avenue connection with Pio Pico Drive under Interstate 5 and other connection points west of the railroad tracks for improved coastal access.
Christiansen Way, Beech, Oak, Pine, Chestnut, Acacia and Juniper avenues are all listed for possible connections west of the railroad tracks. However, most of those connection points rely on trenching the tracks.
For months and years, numerous residents have cried foul over the Village and Barrio Master Plan. The plan was passed 3-1 by the City Council several weeks ago, with Councilwoman Cori Schumacher voting no, but residents are still pushing back on several aspects.
Barrio resident T.J. Childs said her concerns center on safety in the Barrio where lighting is poor; red curbs are not addressed, which increases traffic and pedestrian dangers; and inconsistent crosswalks.
However, she said, she appreciates the work by city staff over the past four years, but it feels as if voices from residents are now going unheard. She pointed to several studies detailing traffic and safety issues over the past several years.
“We can do safety now and pretty later,” Childs said. “We need lighting and we’re not sure the best way to go. I believe there is some kind of compromise. It’s just dark.”
As a result of their concerns, Childs is spearheading potential legal action against the city. She started a GoFundMe page with a $10,000 goal hire a lawyer by Aug. 16. As of Aug. 15, only $400 has been raised.
“From a mobility perspective, those are the issues,” Childs said. “Depending on the improvement, it could be one to four years.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.