Encinitas considers long-awaited Leucadia Boulevard improvements
By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer
ENCINITAS ---- The first phase of a long-awaited improvement program for Leucadia Boulevard is heading to the Encinitas Planning Commission for consideration Thursday.
Ultimately, the plan calls for tan-colored sidewalks, three roundabouts and lush landscaping along both sides of the boulevard, from Vulcan Avenue east to Interstate 5.
Improvements in the first phase concentrate on the one-block stretch between Vulcan and Hermes Avenue, where the westernmost roundabout would be built.
A roundabout is a landscaped circle that separates traffic lanes and slows vehicles, usually without stopping them. It is a term used commonly in Britain.
In 2001, the city hosted workshops to gather ideas for the boulevard. Since then, some residents have demanded that the city improve the road's traffic circulation and appearance.
"It's just killing me, it's just such a mess in that area," Tony Kranz of Hygeia Avenue said Friday.
Kranz said his patience grew especially thin in 2005, when the Encinitas City Council decided to withdraw $1.9 million from the Leucadia project's budget to pay for a different road project on Santa Fe Drive.
City officials said Friday that the money has been restored to Leucadia Boulevard's $2.6 million budget.
If the planning board approves the proposal, construction could begin as soon as April, said Tom Frank, a member of the city's Traffic Commission.
Frank lives less than a block from the Hermes intersection. He has lobbied the city to proceed with plans for the roundabout.
In addition to the roundabout at Hermes, the first phase of planned Leucadia Boulevard improvements include construction of:
- curbs, gutters, sidewalks, streetlights and bike lanes on both sides of the boulevard from Vulcan to Hermes;
- a roundabout at Hymettus Avenue;
- the construction of left-turn lanes on northbound and southbound Vulcan Avenue;
- and an asphalt pathway on the north side of Leucadia Boulevard from Hermes to Interstate 5. The pathway would be replaced with concrete sidewalks during a second phase of construction.
The second phase would add a third roundabout at Hygeia, which today has a four-way stop sign. It also would bring sidewalks to both sides of the boulevard all the way to the freeway and would include landscaping on the sides and on a median for the busy road.
Leucadia Boulevard carries an average of 13,000 vehicles a day, Frank said.
Traffic increased substantially in 1999, when crews expanded the boulevard's I-5 interchange and connected the boulevard to Olivenhain Road.
Farther east, Olivenhain Road turns into Rancho Santa Fe Road, a major thoroughfare connecting San Marcos and other points east to I-5 and the coast.
East of I-5, the medians and sidewalks of Leucadia Boulevard abound with landscaping that city officials point to as a showpiece.
The architect who designed the landscaping on that stretch of the road, Marian Marum, has produced a similar landscaping plan for the boulevard west of the freeway.
Paula Kirpalani of the Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association said that for her, a spruced up Leucadia Boulevard would make for a prettier drive to work.
Beyond that, "Our organization supports any improvements that make for safer access to our business district," she said.
At least one resident remained skeptical that roundabouts are the answer for Leucadia Boulevard's traffic problems.
"I don't see how they work, to tell you the truth," said Dick Lane of Hermes Avenue. "Roundabouts are a lousy idea."
City traffic engineers say roundabouts are a good way to control traffic without bringing it to a stop.
The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at 505 S. Vulcan Ave.
Contact staff writer Adam Kaye at (760) 943-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leucadia Boulevard improvements
What: Encinitas Planning Commission to consider roundabouts, sidewalks and landscaping
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Encinitas City Hall, 505 S. Vulcan Ave.
Information: (760) 633-2600
*I'm somewhat down with the roundabouts now. Notice that this meeting does not involve the potential closing of Leucadia Blvd/train tracks/Hwy101.
I would prefer a roundabout instead of the existing stop sign at Hygeia. I still remember the first time I accidently ran that stop sign the day they put that thing in. "What the hell was that?"
Here is a question, will the big tanker trucks that refuel the 7-11 gas station be able to negotiate these new roundabouts?
Below are photos of a semi-truck that got stuck on the Santa Fe Rd roundabout
click images for larger view