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Speed limit on Coast Highway 101 could be reduced

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Encinitas City Hall
File Photo | Brittany Woolsey

Drivers may soon have to reduce speeds when traveling along North Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.

The Encinitas City Council on Jan. 16 unanimously passed an introduction of an ordinance that would reduce speeds on the street from 35 to 30 miles per hour.

The proposed change comes in advance of construction for the Leucadia Streetscape project, which is set to begin in the fall and would overhaul a 2.5-mile stretch of Coast Highway from La Costa Avenue to A Street, including bike lanes as well as sidewalks and six traffic circle roundabouts. The council-approved project was backed by the California Coastal Commission in October.

Earlier this month, the council approved added crosswalks and rumble strips as interim measures for the Streetscape.

According to findings from a traffic engineer, published in a city staff report, a speed limit of 30 miles per hour on the 101 is “appropriate” and “justified” to mitigate the street’s history of collisions, the existence of bike sharrows along the corridor and narrow lanes.

“The coastal corridor of Coast Highway 101 is one of the highest volume bicycling corridors in the region,” the staff report reads. “North Coast Highway 101 does not have enough width for bike lanes in the southbound direction and as a result cyclists share the outside lane with vehicles which often requires larger vehicles to change lanes when passing cyclists.”

The council also agreed city staff should look at reducing speeds on nearby Vulcan Avenue, where the limit is 35 miles per hour.

“Vulcan has been taking a beating for quite some time now,” said Council member Tony Kranz. “I’ve always been focused on that issue... and the cumulative effect of everything we’re doing to make the community more bikeable and walkable.”

The council felt a need to expedite the Streetscape project after Roberta Walker, the executive director of the nonprofit Cardiff 101 Main Street Association, was critically injured Dec. 8 when a truck hit her while she was riding her bike on Coast Highway 101.

Council members are expected to review the ordinance again at a future meeting, where it could be adopted.