Sunday, November 19, 2006
Crossing Over to Cadmus-Pros and Cons
New Encinitas railroad crossing proposed
What we know for sure is that the status quo sucks. The proposed Cadmus crossing is an intriguing idea.
Closing the train track crossing may seem extreme at first glance but I think it's a good idea. The chaos of the Leucadia Blvd intersection is getting worse and worse by the week.
The only reason Cadmus is even worth discussing is that Cadmus does not connect to Neptune Ave. This prevents Cadmus from becoming a busy thoroughfare to Beacon's. It's odd because Cadmus is one of the few streets that doesn't connect to Neptune Ave. What luck that is.
I think the traffic signal at the Leucadia park/coast highway 101 should stay so that if you are leaving Beacon's you can make a left turn. And if you are going north on Hwy 101 and you want to Beacon's you can make a left turn with a green arrow. There needs to be a pedestrian crossing here as well. I guess you will have to cross the tracks illegally if you want to get to 7-11 and the dry cleaners. Maybe we can work safe legal pedestrian crossings over the train tracks into this plan.
Encinitas Blvd is a prime example of a major thoroughfare with a business district and an entrance into the coastal part of downtown and the beach. Right now traffic coming down Leucadia Blvd is expecting the same thing but instead finds that Leucadia Blvd is more of a sleepy neighborhood road. Unfortunately this sleepy road is being used by commuters coming off the freeway during rush hour. This causes all kinds of gridlock and madness with the combo of the dysfunctional intersection. Cars from I-5, cars from San Elijo Hills, pedestrians, cars coming in and out of 7-11, people trying to take their kids to the elementary school, surfers trying to get to Beacon's, and the train mucking up the whole process.
The ultimate solution would be to lower the tracks like in Solana Beach. Since the cost for such a project is out of reach we have to think out of the box and look for a cheaper solution. Luckily, La Costa Ave and Encinitas Blvd are not affected by the train. Those two locations are equipped to handle the thoroughfare that Leucadia Blvd is not (La Costa Ave needs some improvements as well. See Leucadia!: La Costa Ave Expansion?).
The concern about doing this diversion around Leucadia's dysfunctional intersection is the ripple effect to Encinitas Blvd and La Costa Ave. Drivers may soon learn to avoid Leucadia Blvd and use Encinitas Blvd or La Costa Ave instead. Can these two other intersections handle the impact?
We need to be intelligent about this and look at the traffic studies and see if the new traffic imposed on Encinitas Blvd and La Costa Ave will work. Also, there needs to be fair warning to commuters from the freeway all the way down Leucadia Blvd that there is no direct access to the coast highway. A nice sign before the Leucadia Blvd off ramp on I-5 warning that there is no direct access to the coast highway would help prevent some confusion. A series of signs the whole route would be ideal.
Cadmus needs to have a very large sign declaring that there is NO beach access in order avoid cars going down that street and then having to make u-turns. That would be horrible, even catastrophic for the people that live on Cadmus.
An intersection tells us certain things. A stop sign tells us this intersection is fairly busy. A traffic signal tells us that this is a very busy route. People naturally assume that there is beach access at the traffic signals. We must make the new intersection as idiot proof as possible so not to destroy the quality of life for the people on Cadmus.
One thing that will improve for the good people of Cadmus is that they can use the light to make a left turn onto the coast highway. Right now making a left turn off Cadmus is pretty hairy.
Closing the Leucadia Blvd train track crossing will solve the problem of accidents at a dysfunctional intersection, but in turn it may force that traffic onto La Costa Ave and Encinitas Blvd. I don't know if there is much we can do to improve Encinitas Blvd but La Costa Ave improvements must be made in conjunction with the Leucadia Blvd project.
I don't know if the traffic studies are ever available for public review but it sure would be nice to see the numbers. The numbers should dictate the design. The idea is good but does it work with the numbers?
One of the most appealing things about this proposal is the train quiet zone. Imagine, no more horns blaring away. You could actual have a conversation with your cup of coffee at the Pannikan.
Culturally people are going to be upset about the direct route to the coast highway and Beacon's being closed. But I think this intersection project will jump start other infrastructure improvements needed for business and life to flourish in Leucadia.