On June 28, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board reviewed the intersection of Carmel Country Road and Carmel Mountain Road, which some believe has become increasingly dangerous and in need of some traffic calming measures.
Darren Levitt, vice president of Seabreeze Properties, sits in his office at the Merge development overlooking the intersection and has seen more than his fair share of accidents and near-misses, lots of speeding and lots of screeching as cars turn west onto Carmel Mountain Road from Carmel Country. The screeching he said, happens all day.
“People really like to make noise with their car,” Levitt said. “They come around this corner and try to fishtail.”
Levitt explained that Carmel Mountain Road was originally supposed to connect to the existing Carmel Mountain Road off Camino Del Sur when SR-56 was built but it never did. As a result, it’s a huge intersection with a six-lane road that was master planned for 30,000 daily trips—the road is expected to reach 12,500 trips by 2035.
“In evenings and early mornings, there’s quite a lot of speeding and reckless driving,” Levitt said. “The roughly 200 townhomes directly to the north have no pedestrian connectivity to the park that sits just to the south.”
Levitt set up a camera at his office to catch some of the worst behavior. He screened a video for the planning board that showed a car going an excessive speed on Carmel Mountain; a car doing donuts in the intersection around midnight two weeks ago; a car doing an illegal u-turn and nearly crashing into oncoming vehicles; and people unsafely jaywalking in the middle of the wide intersection, one on his bike with a dog in tow.
New board member Don Billings, who lives in the townhomes adjacent to the intersection, said it can be a risky challenge to attempt to cross to the park across the street.
“Even when it’s red, they don’t stop, they keep coming. It’s really scary, they don’t stop and they gun it,” Billings said of the cars coming from Carmel Country Road.
“I’ve almost been hit exactly there,” agreed board member Annie Glenn, who worries about kids walking or riding bikes to Sage Canyon or Ocean Air schools.
Calming the intersection and creating a more walkable neighborhood would benefit everyone, Levitt said, particularly as more people are walking and riding to the two new Merge restaurants and a new coffee shop Copa Vida is moving in on the corner.
Levitt said he knows there is Facilities Benefits Assessment funding to consider and the board is pursuing traffic studies for several transportation issues in Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch, but one solution he has proposed for the intersection is a roundabout.
“It’s a huge intersection, putting in a roundabout wouldn’t encroach on any right of way, it would fit. It would narrow all incoming lanes down to one and slow everybody down,” Levitt said. “It’s a solution that I think makes sense and emblematic of what we’re all here trying to create Carmel Valley to be.”
Carmel Valley Planning Board Chair Frisco White said they are now aware of the issues at the intersection and it will be something that the board considers as they move forward with traffic studies for the area and allocating funds toward solutions.
Steven Hadley, SD City Council District 1 representative, said in the meantime he can ask for increased enforcement at the intersection from the San Diego Police Department.