Cyclist safety prompts Encinitas to pursue re-striping Coast Highway

Encinitas welcoming sign
(Charlie Neuman)

Plans seen as short-term solution for northern Leucadia corridor


As money isn’t immediately available to do a complete overhaul of the North Coast Highway 101 corridor all at one time, Encinitas will pursue a roadway re-striping project to improve cyclists’ safety, the City Council decided Wednesday, June 23.

“It’s a great pathway forward and I can support this,” Councilman Joe Mosca said as he discussed city staff members’ latest proposal for resolving the city’s Streetscape funding troubles.

Just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, city officials were planning to borrow money to do all of the Leucadia Streetscape project at one time. Faced with a national economic downturn that arrived with the pandemic, council members ultimately restructured the 2.5-mile, roadway renovation project, deciding to do small segments in a series of construction phases.

Work on the first segment --- the overhaul of a 0.4-mile section of Coast Highway from Marchetta Street to Basil Street --- began earlier this year.

While that segment is expected to be done next spring, funding for other portions is still up in the air. There’s talk of obtaining a special bank loan for up to $20 million to pay for the Jupiter Street to Moorgate Road improvements, and city officials hope to obtain federal funding for the A Street to Marchetta Street portion.

Under current forecasts, construction work on either of those two projects isn’t expected to begin until at least the winter of 2022. Even with those areas renovated, there still would be unimproved sections of the roadway remaining.

The new re-striping proposal aims to resolve this situation by making some lower cost, short-term improvements along the corridor. Through the proposed re-striping and the shaving off of the edges of some roadway medians, the city will gain space for a dedicated bike lane from Basil Street to La Costa Avenue. This will be achieved by eliminating one vehicle lane in each direction, which also is the ultimate goal of the Streetscape renovation project, which also includes wider sidewalks, new landscaping and drainage improvements.

Encinitas has obtained state Coastal Commission approval for the full-scale Streetscape project and will need to tread carefully as it moves forward with the new re-striping plans, Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Wednesday night, June 23.

“I don’t want to create problems that we don’t need,” she said.

For example, Blakespear said, the city shouldn’t propose eliminating any roadside parking to gain space for the proposed bike lane under its re-striping plans because that might put it crosswise with the state, even though Encinitas is building some new parking pod areas along the east side of Coast Highway.

Council members agreed Wednesday, June 23, to spend just under $100,000 to redesign the Streetscape plans to add in the new re-striping and roadway median reduction proposal.

City employees said the construction costs are likely to total roughly $1 million, but said they would have a better handle on that cost figure once the new design work is done. Design and permitting is expected to conclude later this year, and construction is forecast to conclude in fall 2022.

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