El Portal, Leucadia Streetscape projects near halfway mark

The El Portal undercrossing under construction.
(Julie Taber)

In the coming weeks, the City of Encinitas will celebrate reaching the halfway point for the El Portal undercrossing and the first phase of the Leucadia Streetscape projects.

The El Portal project will create a new rail bridge and “the crown jewel of pedestrian undercrossings” between N. Coast Highway 101 and Vulcan Avenue, east of El Portal Street and nearby Paul Ecke Central Elementary School. The revamped intersection will include a roundabout and the undercrossing will provide enhanced access to beaches, schools, businesses and residential neighborhoods across the rail line.

The Leucadia Streetscape project is focused on revitalizing the 101 corridor with additional parking in parking pods, wider sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, roundabouts and restoration of the historic tree canopy with the planting of 100 new trees.

“Together these two projects improve connectivity and mobility throughout a key corridor in our community,” said Lillian Doherty, the city’s infrastructure and sustainability department director during an update at the Aug. 25 Encinitas City Council meeting.

A peek at the undercrossing underway.
(Julie Taber)

At El Portal, crews have built the undercrossing bridge, excavated for retaining walls and poured the retaining wall foundations and concrete for accent walls.

On Oct. 2-3 and Oct. 16-17, nighttime and weekend work will result in some rail closures—the city plans to do significant outreach in advance of the work so the public will know what to expect.

The streetscape project is humming along with new parking pods popping up on the east side of North Coast Highway 101 as well as new walking paths.

Construction is ongoing on phase one, from A Street to Basil Street, which includes restriping of lanes, median improvements, lighting and stormwater and drainage improvements. There will also be new crosswalks with flashing lights to allow people to safely cross the road.

Construction on this phase of the project is expected to be completed in the spring.

Jill Bankston, acting city engineer, said the more challenging work will begin in October when they remove the old sidewalks in front of the businesses on the west side of the 101 and build new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and add landscaping and lighting. This work will occur from Marcheta Street to just past El Portal.

Bankston said the city is meeting with and surveying local businesses to understand their needs and help develop ways to reduce the impact of the construction—accommodating those businesses was a stated priority of Councilmember Kellie Hinze.

Future Leucadia Streetscape work includes safety and mobility enhancements from Basil Street to La Costa Avenue and from Jupiter Street to La Costa Avenue.

A rendering of the El Portal undercrossing.

Construction is estimated to start in May 2022, pending coastal commission approval.

The third streetscape segment, which includes three roundabouts (at Jupiter Street, Grandview Street and Bishops Gate Road), is planned to begin construction in November 2022, again with coastal commission approval.

“I’m just so excited that we’re going to offer all of these incredible amenities in our public space,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

The public is encouraged stay connected on both projects’ progress. For the Leucadia Streetscape, email For theEl Portal Undercrossing email or visit Both project teams can be reached by phone at (760) 512-3800.