Del Mar traffic roundabout won’t move along with sidewalk project

Del Mar will have to wait a little longer for its first roundabout.

In a 4-0 vote, the city council on Jan. 5 approved the mitigated negative declaration for the citywide sidewalk capital improvement project — minus the proposed roundabout at Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive. A mitigated negative declaration addresses potential environmental effects associated with the proposed project.

The comprehensive sidewalk, street and drainage plan is being implemented in phases.

In May, the council added the traffic-calming device to segment two of the project, at a cost of about $1 million. And although council members approved the design proposal and project schedule for the roundabout in October, city staff ultimately suggested removing the roundabout from the overall project.

Concerned about traffic impacts and the necessity of the roundabout, a number of Del Mar residents opposed the addition during the Oct. 23 public workshop. When the mitigated negative declaration was released for public comment Nov. 4, the city also received nine letters from community members, outlining concerns regarding potential environmental impacts, as well as transportation and traffic concerns associated with the proposed roundabout.

Instead of moving forward with the roundabout as part of the overall project, staff proposed pursuing it as a separate project, complete with its own environmental review. The council agreed.

“I think it’s a good decision to take the roundabout out. Let it rise or fall on its own merits and undergo its own review,” Councilman Dwight Worden said. “The sidewalk project is a great project. It’s now, I think, noncontroversial. Let’s go build our sidewalk and deal with the roundabout separately.”

In case the city eventually approves a roundabout at the intersection, the sidewalk that will be installed along the street will end about 100 feet back from where a roundabout would be installed.

“The real reasoning behind not putting it (a sidewalk) in now is not to invest the resources in something that could get removed in the very short term, if in fact, it’s decided that we are moving forward with a roundabout, or for that matter, a different improvement in the intersection,” City Manager Scott Huth said.

With the council’s approval of the mitigated negative declaration, segment two of the eight-segment project is set to go before the Design Review Board. This portion of the project will then go out for public bidding. The council could be presented with a recommendation for the award contract in February, with construction complete before the opening of the San Diego County Fair in June.

Mayor Al Corti recused himself from the issue, as he’s done in the past. City Attorney Leslie Devaney noted that three members of the council — Corti, Terry Sinnott and Worden — live within 500 feet of the project, but only Corti owns property directly abutting the sidewalks.