VISTA — A major overhaul to downtown is entering the final stretch.
The Paseo Santa Fe Streetscape project, which is changing the look, feel and movement of the area, is expected to be completed in less than one year.
The City Council approved a change order during its Nov. 12 meeting to ensure construction continues after the discovery of a concrete road under the current pavement. The order also includes a $2.5 million grant from the San Diego Association of Governments Smart Growth Incentive Program, according to Greg Mayer, a Vista city engineer.
The cost of the new order is more than $7.4 million and it is the fifth such order since construction began in 2017. Paul Mochel, the city’s construction manager, said one of the challenges for the contractor, Dick Miller, Inc., has been laying utilities underground and the discovery of concrete pavement, or a small road, under the surface.
“The council is pretty excited that we can keep this contractor effectively, and literally, rolling down the street,” Mayer said. “Phase two is what is currently under contract and what you see out there today. Phase two is basically repeat of phase one.”
According to Andrea McCullough, communications director for the city, the first vision for the project came about more than 20 years ago. About 12 years ago, it started to become a reality but due to the Great Recession, it took a backseat.
However, the city was able to put together funding and greenlit the streetscape in 2015, and phase one was completed in 2016.
Due to funding concerns, the City Council approved the project in three phases, with phase one being completed last year. The approval, meanwhile, ensures the city will accept the SANDAG funds and allows for the continuation of work instead of stopping, due to a lack of money, and having to start the process over again.
Phase two, meanwhile, is slated to be finished in the spring and phase three to be completed in the fall 2020. In total, the project will cost $20.2 million.
As for construction, Mochel said the challenges have been with undergrounding the utilities and discovering an underground paved road. Despite some of those challenges, Mochel said the work is on schedule, businesses are being accommodated and parking changes has been fluid and smooth.
“You don’t know what’s buried and it’s an older city,” he said. “We found a bunch of utilities that nobody knew about and weren’t on any records, which is not uncommon. We found an old concrete road that added to the challenges.”
“From a visual blight perspective, having all those wires drop underground is pretty dramatic,” Mayer added.
The project is between Main Street and Civic Center Drive on South Santa Fe Drive. It has, and will continue, to reduce the number of lanes from four to two, install new curbs and gutters with decorative sidewalks and pavement, landscaping, street furniture and artwork.
During phases two and three, two more stop lights will be removed and replaced with roundabouts to keep traffic flowing, Mayer said. In total, three roundabouts will be installed on South Santa Fe through the project zone.
However, the street was not wide enough to incorporate diagonal parking along both sides of South Santa Fe, Mayer added. So, one side will remain with parallel parking.
Additionally, the city will erect another arch, like the one across Main Street.
“It is a revitalization of the entire corridor,” Mayer said.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.