Encinitas commission approves Leucadia roundabout project


Encinitas city planning commissioners on Thursday, Nov. 21, approved permits for a third traffic circle roundabout on Leucadia Boulevard, a project that’s been some 17 years in the making.

But, the commissioners said, the construction plans also ought to include sidewalks stretching from the proposed roundabout at Hygeia Avenue along both sides of Leucadia Boulevard to its intersection with Orpheus Avenue. Money for extending sidewalks isn’t in the project budget, so commissioners unanimously agreed to take the highly unusual step of petitioning the City Council for that funding in the coming weeks.

“This is too important to put off,” said Commissioner Kevin Doyle, who agreed to read aloud a written statement at one of the council’s future meetings.

Commissioner Bruce Ehlers called the sidewalks a “large, missing component,” and Commissioner Al Apuzzo told Chairman Glenn O’Grady that he wanted the commission to produce the written statement for Doyle instead of just speaking off the cuff at a council meeting because that would send a much stronger message. O’Grady, who lives near the proposed roundabout and has served on the commission for about a decade, said the commission’s decision to petition the council ought to catch people’s attention.

“I can’t remember any time as a body that we’ve actually petitioned the council,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting was the second time the commission has discussed the proposed roundabout this fall. In early October, commissioners delayed their decision on the roundabout project’s permits, saying they wanted a traffic study about current conditions on the roadway and what impact the proposed roundabout might have.

Now that they have that study, they want to move forward, commissioners said. The new study found the intersection, which is currently controlled by stop signs, is at an “E” status right now and that would improve to a “B” status with the addition of the roundabout, Apuzzo noted.

“I think in anyone’s book that is a vast improvement from where we are today,” he said.

Ehlers said he had been initially a little hesitant about backing the proposed roundabout given the traffic congestion issues on Leucadia Boulevard, but the traffic study results were impressive.

“I was not against it before, but now I am fully for it,” he said.

Most of the nine people who spoke to the commission Thursday, Nov. 21, also expressed strong support for the plans, saying the roundabout would improve pedestrian and cyclist safety. An opponent said he didn’t have a lot of faith in the traffic report and thought the city shouldn’t replace the stop signs with a costly roundabout.

Leucadia Boulevard’s intersection with Hygeia is between two existing roundabouts. The other two roundabouts -- one at Hymettus Avenue and one at Hermes Avenue -- were built more than a decade ago as part of the first phase of what’s called the Leucadia Boulevard Streetscape Project. The Hygeia roundabout was initially proposed to be part of that construction project, but was later eliminated.

— Barbara Henry is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune