Pacific Beach planners endorse roundabouts for Foothill Boulevard
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 02/23/20 - 08:00 AM | 1755 views | 1 1 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Proposed upgrades for the intersection of Vickie Drive and Foothill Boulevard.
Proposed upgrades for the intersection of Vickie Drive and Foothill Boulevard.
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Reacting to a groundswell of complaints about traffic and safety problems on Foothill Boulevard, Pacific Beach Planning Group Feb. 12 unanimously endorsed several traffic-calming measures there including a future roundabout on Vickie Drive.

Community activist Tom Coat, a Foothill Boulevard resident, has been collecting signatures from neighbors on two petitions to get traffic-calming approved along Foothill. He noted the thoroughfare is a major two-lane road accommodating as much as 20% of total daily trips into and out of PB. 

“We need to resolve this issue once and for all,” Coat said. “We need urgent attention to solve it.” 

Coat added he and others have gone door-to-door to attain signatures from at least 75% of neighbors living within 200 feet of proposed Foothill traffic improvements. He noted that is the threshold to qualify for traffic-calming at troublesome spots along the boulevard.

Initial traffic calming measures being sought on Foothill Boulevard is meant to be temporary until the longer-term fix is in: as many as three roundabouts, a process that could take several years in between design and construction.

Coat pointed out Foothill drivers frequently exceed 40 mph on the road that has a 25 mph speed limit. The boulevard is near Pacific Beach Elementary School and has lots of pedestrians and cyclists who are at-risk entering or crossing the road. 

Coat and others added that accidents including fences being knocked down and parked cars were struck, happen frequently on Foothill endangering elderly neighbors, pedestrians and kids alike.

It was also mentioned that glare, at certain times of the day, can be blinding to Foothill Boulevard drivers, further complicating the situation.

Longtime PBPG planner Eve Anderson, who heads the planning group’s Streets and Sidewalks Subcommittee, presented a series of four action items at PBPG proposed to resolve Foothill’s traffic and safety issues. 

Of the proposed traffic-calming measures Anderson said, “Most of the improvements we are proposing involve signage and lighting. For example, when pedestrians are crossing Foothill, all lights will turn red to protect them.”

Subcommittee suggestions for traffic calming included improved signage, flashing lights in both directions, installation of a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon and, ultimately, possible construction of three traffic roundabouts at Vickie Drive as well as at Loring and Tourmaline streets.

Of the status of the roundabouts, Anderson said, “Loring is in the design phase, Vickie Drive now has a completed petition to start the process and Tourmaline was listed, though there was opposition years ago when (first) proposed — so it’s in limbo.”

Anderson added the need for traffic calming on Foothill is obvious. “Nobody dares to cross that street,” she said adding, “We aren’t transportation engineers and we don’t have all the answers, but we tried to listen to all the problems and come up with solutions.”

Audience members questioned whether stop signs might not be a better option than traffic calming on Foothill.

Civil engineer Ambrose Wong, who was in attendance and has done schematic drawings for the proposed roundabouts and other traffic calming proposed on Foothill, said stop signs are not an option.

“The whole idea of traffic calming along Foothill is not to stop traffic,” Wong said. “The city will not put in any stop signs along that stretch. They want traffic to slow, but to keep the flow going and never to stop it.”

Planner Joe Bettles asked if traffic-calming on Foothill Boulevard might have the unintended consequence of diverting traffic to side streets like Beryl.

Answered Wong, “That won’t happen because there are more stop signs on the side streets. It would never be faster to go around (traffic calming).”

Coat noted there is a solid coalition of community groups and others backing Foothill traffic-calming.

“People are very supportive and we have a community partnership between PB Town Council and PB Planning Group, as well as support from Campbell’s City Council office,” he said pointing out, “We need to get this through the City bureaucracy.”

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