Santa Fe traffic control work picks up speed


A number of traffic-related construction projects near the Santa Fe Drive freeway interchange have kicked off in recent months.

Ed Deane, senior civil engineer with the city, said some of those projects are prepping for the 44-acre Encinitas Community Park and nearby Scripps Memorial Hospital expansion.

First, the city is almost doubling the length of a left-turn lane for westbound cars on Santa Fe entering the park.

“The lane can hold more cars, so they don’t disrupt through traffic,” Deane said, adding the extension should be finished within about a week.

Also, the city recently installed a turn lane so cars traveling east on Santa Fe can hang a right onto Windsor Road. That will help mitigate the increased traffic that’s expected when the park debuts sometime this fall, Deane noted.

Even with the new park and hospital expansion, Deane said traffic should still flow well on Santa Fe. To handle more cars, two traffic lights will eventually go in, one in front of the hospital and another at the nearby southbound freeway off-ramp.

The park itself has 418 parking spaces. Groups holding large special events must develop a traffic-control plan, which might include off-site parking at places like San Dieguito Academy.

Other traffic-related improvements on tap for the park: The city put in new driveways at the two car entrances for the park, behind the Vons on Santa Fe and MacKinnon Avenue, to make the park more accessible.

And those driving on Santa Fe have probably noticed construction on the southbound Interstate 5 on-ramp.

As part of the hospital recently opening a new 72,300-square-foot critical-care facility, Caltrans required Scripps to reconfigure the southbound Interstate 5 on-ramp so it lines up with the off-ramp across the street.

The previous setup created a conflict between westbound cars wanting to turn left on to the southbound on-ramp and those exiting the off-ramp, Deane said, adding that the planned traffic light at the interchange should also lessen confusion.

Also, Caltrans is looking to install new retaining walls at the Santa Fe underpass and put in sidewalks as well as bike lanes underneath sometime in the next five years. That project is part of the I-5 corridor construction.

“You’ll have better east-west connectivity,” Deane said.

Along the same lines, to aid those walking to schools in the area, the city recently awarded a $465,900 grant for new sidewalk construction on the north side of Santa Fe, between Gardena Road and Nardo Road. Work is expected to begin in the next few months.