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More Improvements Along Coastline Planned in Carlsbad

Carlsbad CA— The Carlsbad City Council heard an update this week on recent improvements along the Carlsbad coastline, as well as plans for upcoming projects designed to improve safety, traffic flow, walking and biking, and the overall beach-going experience.

Continuing to enhance the Carlsbad coastline was called out as a top priority by the City Council at its Feb. 3 annual goal setting workshop.

“Our coastline has a unique character and is a big part of what makes Carlsbad special,” said Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio, who spoke at the Feb. 17 City Council meeting. “Improvements will focus on making it easier for people to get to the beach and giving them an even better experience when they get there, while respecting those elements people cherish most.”

To date, the city has completed about $3 million worth of improvements, including new and expanded crosswalks, wider bike lanes and greater separation between bicyclists and cars along Carlsbad Boulevard. In January, the city completed a major renovation of the restrooms at Tamarack Avenue and redid the landscaping along the beach bluff to beautify the area and prevent erosion.

The city also recently completed its first coastal roundabout at State Street and Carlsbad Boulevard, which included new sidewalks, landscaping and public art at the city’s northern gateway. The roundabout also enables better traffic flow to and from the bustling Village area, home to shops, restaurants and arts venues.

Current projects include improvements to the bridge over the railroad tracks on Carlsbad Boulevard, just south of the roundabout. That project will bring the bridge up to current safety standards, add wider bike lanes in both directions and a wider sidewalk on the east side. A new sidewalk will be built on the west side where none exists today.

“Back when Highway 101 was built, the focus was on cars only, and there was no I-5,” said Barberio. “Today, people want the option of traveling along our coastline by car, on foot and by bicycle. That’s why we are slowly transforming the character of Carlsbad Boulevard to be a coastal roadway welcoming to all modes of transportation.”

Another current project is a multimodal infrastructure plan, which will identify new ways to improve connectivity along the coastline. The study will look at emerging technology as well as bike and car sharing, shuttle options and other alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles that are “cleaner and greener” and reduce traffic congestion.

Also in the works are improvements to beach access points and stairways north of Pine Avenue. Construction is planned for later this year.

Future projects include improvements to the entrance of the Tamarack parking lot and walkway to the south over the lagoon. Currently the parking lot entrance has an awkward bus stop in the median that is not easily accessible. The popular lagoon bridge walkway is so narrow that walkers and joggers are forced into a single file line. Both problems will be addressed by this project, scheduled to start this fall and be completed in early 2017.

A plan to add sidewalks south of Cannon Road is also in the works. According to Barberio, the city will work with local residents on a project to improve safety along the stretch of Carlsbad Boulevard from Cannon Road to Manzano Drive. Construction on that project is scheduled to start in the fall of 2016.

A final set of projects still in the planning stages covers Carlsbad Boulevard from Manzano Drive to the city’s southern border at La Costa Avenue. The city will evaluate options for reconfiguring the roadway to improve traffic flow, increase space for walkers and bicyclists and better utilize city-owned property along the coastline for recreation and services.

One remaining segment of Carlsbad Boulevard, from Beech Avenue to Tamarack Avenue, will be planned as part of the Village and Barrio Master Plan, currently under way. The other, from Tamarack Avenue to Cannon Road, will be planned in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Power Plant property. The Encina Power Station is scheduled to be taken off line in 2017. A smaller, more environmentally friendly plant is currently going through the California Energy Commission approval process, with a decision expected this summer.

“We are lucky to have almost seven miles of coastline in our city,” said Barberio. “We are going to be very thoughtful about each project we take on, working closely with the community, to make sure we maintain what people love about the coast and ensure it can be enjoyed by generations to come.”