Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Driver
The draft EIR for traffic control on Jimmy Durante Drive covers three options: roundabout, traffic signal, and side-street stop sign (what we have now) with “equal evaluation of the project alternatives.”
The situation has become more complicated since the Draft EIR was issued, because not only is the Del Mar River Path extension (from Jimmy Durante to the Overlook Pier) set for completion in a couple of months,- but two other projects have emerged at or near this “hot corner” intersection: Watermark Del Mar, a “48-home residential project” on the south-east corner, and Vigilante Brewing Company, a brewery with tasting room and restaurant, in the building adjacent to the River Path recently abandoned by Eucalyptus Stoneware.
The Draft EIR states the proposed project is a roundabout with a diameter of about 100 feet that should reduce the speed of traffic, traffic noise and exhaust emissions, while encouraging a steady flow, except in circumstances of overload such as peak times during the Fair and Racing seasons. It would also deal best with the problem of illegal south-bound U-turns by vehicles forced to exit the main Fairgrounds parking to the right when they want to head left toward Via de la Valle and I-5.
Tables detailed the relative Levels of Service (LOS) for the three options under various circumstances for current traffic levels and projected levels in 2035, and in each case the roundabout option was shown to “operate under the lowest overall delay.” The 2035 projected levels took into account the possible development of Watermark (p. 35). The roundabout was also shown to produce shorter vehicle queues than the traffic signal or side-street stop sign, though with highest volume (at least in 2035) they would extend back beyond David Way heading north.
Another important comparison regards pedestrians. A traffic signal would give pedestrians a defined crossing period with most vehicles stopped during the pedestrian phase. However, pedestrians would have greater exposure to more vehicles and lanes with this alternative, which includes longer crossing distances than with a roundabout. Under a roundabout configuration, pedestrians only have to cross a single lane of traffic in each direction and are able to wait in the splitter island area, if needed, to wait for vehicles to stop. However, vehicles must yield to pedestrians after observing them attempting to cross and no signal is provided to stop vehicles.
Taking “environment” in an encompassing sense the DEIR considers possible impacts on the San Dieguito River and Lagoon (air quality, runoff, noise etc.) and shows that they will not be significant. In sum, the Roundabout option is found to be the “environmentally superior alternative.”
For the Scoping Meeting of this project see “’Round and ‘Round We Go,” Sandpiper, May 2015 here .