Commuters who pass through the north part of town on El Camino Real will soon get to see the benefits of recent road improvements, but they’ll need to wait until January to get the full effect. Carlsbad public works officials said the segment between Tamarack and Chestnut avenues should be completed by the end of October 2016, and the part south of Tamarack in early 2017.
At a Glance
Two side by side construction projects have slowed traffic and frustrated commuters since late 2014.
One is a city-led project that is almost done; the other, led and paid for by the developer of Robertson Ranch, is not far behind.
The projects will ease traffic, make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians and enable the area to get recycled water, thanks to pipes laid underneath the road.
The City of Carlsbad and private developers are working on separate projects to widen El Camino Real roadway to three lanes in each direction and make other improvements to bring the roadway up to modern standards.
The city’s portion of the project adds:
New traffic signals that have modern technology to help improve traffic flow
New sidewalks on both sides of the street
Widened bicycle lanes
New curbs and gutters
A new drainage system that addresses pollutants’ effects on the nearby lagoon and ocean
A raised median with low water use plants
One of the more visible changes is the burying of overhead power lines to beautify the road and make it safer.
“Given that we faced some unexpected challenges once construction got underway, we really focused on getting things wrapped up as quickly and painlessly as we could,” said Brandon Miles, a City of Carlsbad associate engineer and the city’s project manager. “We prepare for a certain amount of potential delays, but this project had a few more than its share.”
The project was originally slated for completion in spring.
According to Miles, the project team encountered geological, drainage and ground water challenges, as well as finding cultural resources at the construction site. The city brought on geologists and archaeologists to assist the project team in addressing these issues.
The city also decided to add recycled water pipes to the area, taking advantage of the road construction.
The widening of El Camino Real to six-lanes will ease traffic, which surveys show is one of residents’ top concerns. The improvements also conform with the California Complete Streets Act and the “mobility element” of the recently updated General Plan. The mobility element is a series of policies to address how people get around in the city, utilizing all travel modes, not just vehicles.
Miles says although the city’s segment will be done, construction will continue on El Camino Real until early 2017, when the Toll Brothers company is expected to complete similar improvements to the segment of El Camino Real south of Tamarack to Cannon Road. Under the city’s Growth Management Program, developers are required to make improvements to roads and other infrastructure to help ensure new building doesn’t negatively affect the city’s quality of life. The Robertson Ranch project is one of the last master planned neighborhoods to be built in this part of Carlsbad, according to the housing caps outlined in the Growth Management Plan.
On Tuesday, the City Council will consider contract amendments that bring the total cost to $15.7 million. The project is funded primarily through Carlsbad’s share of the tax people pay on gas and the San Diego Association of Government’s “Transnet” program, which is funded by a half cent increase in the region’s sales tax that funds transportation projects.