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Artist Rendering courtesy of SANDAG

Construction Begins on Downtown San Diego Bikeways Project Along Fourth and Fifth Avenues

Project adds 4.5 miles of Separated Pathway, Improved Lighting, and Safety Enhancements

San Diego CA—SANDAG construction crews broke ground on a series of community enhancements to add approximately 4.5 miles of separated and buffered bikeways and neighborhood safety improvements between B Street in Downtown San Diego and Washington Street in Hillcrest.

The $12.2 million project will make it more comfortable, safe, and attractive to walk, bike, drive, scoot, skip, glide, or ride other personal mobility devices in Downtown San Diego, Bankers Hill, and Hillcrest.

The project includes improvements for bike riders such as bike signals and medians to separate most of the bikeway from traffic; improvements for walkers such as new and improved crosswalks; and improvements for people with disabilities such as updated curb ramps and accessible parking.

The project also includes community-requested improvements like new lighting and landscaping and a variety of intersection treatments that will increase safety for everyone.

“This project will make it safer and easier for people to walk and bike along commonly traveled streets to visit local businesses and reach destinations such as Downtown San Diego, Balboa Park, and Hillcrest,” said SANDAG Vice Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “San Diegans are walking and biking more during the pandemic and this project will provide safe and convenient options for people to continue to choose active transportation, even when the health crisis is far behind us.”

Throughout the County of San Diego, there has been an increase in people walking and biking over the past five months as residents adapt to lifestyle changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. SANDAG has seen a 20% increase in bike ridership on Fourth and Fifth avenues in Bankers Hill this year compared to the same period in 2019.

The new bikeways being constructed along Fourth and Fifth avenues are part of the Uptown Bikeways, a broader effort to enhance neighborhood connectivity between Uptown, Old Town, Mission Valley, Downtown San Diego, North Park, and Balboa Park. The Uptown Bikeways project reimagines how streets can promote active living, multimodal transportation options, and healthy communities, while making them safer for all travelers, whether they choose to bike, walk, drive, or take transit.

“This groundbreaking marks an important milestone for this community. Thank you to SANDAG and our community partners for the collaboration and determination it took to get us here today,” said San Diego City Councilmember Chris Ward. “These much-needed improvements to the heart of the City will enhance our community and provide accessibility and safety for people walking and biking.”

The Uptown Bikeways project was proposed in 2012. Since then, SANDAG has held ten workshops and made more than 100 presentations to ensure ongoing collaboration and engagement with stakeholders and the community throughout the project development process.

Initial concern from residents and businesses arose early in the planning process regarding potential loss of parking. SANDAG worked closely with residents, businesses, and stakeholder organizations and conducted a comprehensive parking study to identify creative solutions.

Based on these findings and community input, SANDAG extensively revised the original project design to minimize impacts to on-street parking. Working with the community, the project team worked to identify locations for parking conversions on adjacent streets and ultimately were able to provide a surplus of parking.

The bikeways and lighting and safety enhancements are a critical component of the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program, an initiative approved by the Board of Directors in 2013 to construct a regional network of high-quality, pedestrian-friendly streets and bikeways that reimagines how we use space on our streets to make them safer and more comfortable for every person who uses them, regardless of age, race, or physical ability.

Crews began work on Fourth and Fifth avenues between B Street and Beech Street. As construction progresses, work will proceed northbound along the project corridors. Anticipated construction impacts include parking restrictions, lane closures, and intermittent traffic delays. People biking can expect temporary bike lane closures. Access for people walking around the work areas will be maintained at all times.

Preliminary work includes roadway demolition and the construction of concrete curb medians to separate most of the bikeway from vehicle lanes. Nearby residents and businesses can expect intermittent lane closures, parking restrictions, construction noise, and dust. Most work will occur Monday through Friday, holidays excluded, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Occasional work on Saturdays may be required.

SANDAG has been coordinating with the City of San Diego to accommodate businesses that are taking advantage of “Temporary Outdoor Business Operation” permits along Fourth and Fifth avenues during the pandemic. SANDAG is committed to helping businesses continue operating and has modified construction schedules to minimize potential business impacts.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2022. The City of San Diego will own, maintain, and operate the new bikeways. Design, engineering, and construction of the Fourth and Fifth Avenue Bikeways project is funded by TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG.