Ideas to revitalize Hwy. 101 in Solana Beach presented
Efforts to revitalize the 2.2-mile stretch of Highway 101 in Solana Beach shifted to a higher gear Jan. 20, as engineers presented their initial concepts of what it might look like down the road.
The goal would be to calm traffic and create a pedestrian atmosphere where businesses can thrive. Doing this could involve replacing traffic lights with roundabouts, or creating a shared lane between cars and bikes, known as a sharrow. Preliminary plans also call for adoptioning back-in angular parking, or spaces that are slanted the opposite direction of traffic so cars must park facing the street.
“It is long in coming and I think you’re going to see some very dramatic results,” said renowned consultant Dan Burden, retained by Solana Beach. “We see other towns that have gone through these transformations that have become very alive, very exciting places that are places to invest in business, have homes, all of the things that people choose and select a community for.”
Burden and Councilman Mike Nichols point to the success of a similar revitalization of La Jolla Boulevard in Bird Rock. That area now has more coffee shops, retail, housing and pedestrian access.
“(The Bird Rock project) has started to change the way people are designing streets, and so the exercise we’re going through now is trying to pick up where that one left off and continue the momentum,” Nichols said.
La Jolla Boulevard replaced traffic lights with roundabouts, but declined to install reverse-angle parking. These spots are said to reduce risks when pulling out because drivers are forced to look forward at the road.
“It’s definitely something worth considering,” Nichols said.
A sharrow, or shared-arrow lane, only currently exists in Long Beach and Salt Lake City. These entail a shared lane for bikes and cars, with bicyclists having the right of way.
“If no bikes are there, they can drive as fast as they want,” said Larry Thornburgh of Nasland Engineering, a firm hired by Solana Beach to help design the concepts.
The proposals call for one northbound and two southbound lanes on Highway 101. The intersection with Lomas Santa Fe would remain unchanged because it is too busy, said John Keating, a principal engineer studying traffic impacts. The speed limit would be reduced from 45 to 30 mph.
“As long as traffic is moving, going slower isn’t necessarily worse, but we wanted to be able to serve the businesses, serve the community and not encourage it to be an alternate for I-5,” Keating said.
Nichols said revised plans should be presented to the city council during the summer. Solana Beach is currently looking for grants to fund the project, which he estimated would cost around $15 million.
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