Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Courtesy City of Solana Beach
Solana Beach is creating a new streetscape that by Fall 2013 will provide new public gathering places and 27 new diagonal parking spaces for pedestrians and shoppers along the west side of 101, from Dahlia Street at the southern end to Cliff Street at the northern end, with Plaza Street in the middle.
Final plans for the Highway 101 West Side Improvement Project were approved by their City Council in 2011. Council members were initially inspired by a 2006 ‘Place Making’ workshop with Fred Kent, founder and president of the non-profit organization Project for Public Spaces*. The Council subsequently scheduled community workshops to get input from residents on where they wanted ‘to be’ downtown. Gathering places were agreed upon and consultants identified eleven distinct locations for bulb-out areas, benches and wall seating, planters and decorative paving, sites for art, water features, script, light and bike fixtures and even a solar powered bus stop.
“We wanted to create places for residents to go, to hang out, to be intrigued and discover new things plus attract development that will replace, for instance, the abandoned gas station or old trailer park,” Councilmember Lesa Heebner commented after speaking to the Del Mar Rotary Club earlier this year. She said that American Assets has already purchased the property at the southern end of the project to build a mixed-use development that will include boutique shops and a specialty market on 101, and residential units on Sierra Avenue.
Construction is tearing up and moving the median east to make room for the wider sidewalks and diagonal parking to the west. Southbound bicyclists will use the western most auto lane to be marked as a Sharrow lane, or a full lane that is shared by both bicyclists and autos.
All of the place-making work will take place on the west side of the highway. The award-winning Coastal Rail Trail, a popular bicycle and pedestrian path with eye-catching landscaping, covers the east side of 101 where there is neither commercial properties nor parking. The two northbound auto lanes will be narrowed slightly and the existing separate bicycle lane will remain.
Four additional pedestrian crosswalks, two controlled by Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons, will encourage walkers to cross 101 and take one of the existing bridges east over the railroad tracks to the Cedros Shopping District. “We hope to create a synergy between the two areas,” Heebner said. “The Project creates a pedestrian bridge-to-bridge loop from Dahlia Ave. to Cliff St. that includes the Cedros District!”
The project’s estimated cost of $6,709,679 will be funded in large part by a $5.5 million dollar loan against the City’s future share of TransNet funds.
*Fred Kent’s group made a similar presentation to the Del Mar City Council, Planning Commission and Design Review Board in 2006. A video of that meeting as well as a Fred Kent Video-Creating Public Spaces can be accessed on the Del Mar City Website’s Revitalization/Useful Information links.