The good news came recently during the City Council Budget Review Committee, as the Transportation and Storm Water Department announced funding has been approved for construction of roundabouts in the budget at Loring and Foothill Boulevard, along with three others on Crown Point Drive.
"We have funding for design of all four of the traffic circles, including three planned for Crown Point Drive and the one on Foothill/Loring," said Linda Marabian, the city's deputy director of transportation engineering. “We're committed to finishing (all of) it. So, in the coming years, we will be allocating funds for these projects."
Funding is expected to arrive by August, with roundabout construction completion possible by 2018, Marabian added.
A major push for the Pacific Beach roundabouts was made by District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf.
Zapf thanked PB residents for turning out at the council committee hearing, noting, "I know it's a big deal to come downtown, find parking, and come up here. It's not a small thing, and we understand that and appreciate your efforts."
Both Zapf and Marabian said the involvement of residents along Foothill Boulevard and in the Crown Point area was a critical factor in the approval of the traffic-improvement projects.
Foothill residents have been trying since at least 1993 to get their concerns about excessive speeds and other dangerous conditions on the street addressed.
In 2014, residents again got involved when Foothill's posted 25 mph speed limit signs were unexpectedly changed to 30 mph. Virtually every resident on the street signed petitions, and the Pacific Beach Planning Group backed their demands that the 25 mph signs be restored.
The Pacific Beach Planning Group also asked that traffic-calming measures be installed along the twisting road, where traffic regularly hits speeds far exceeding 25 mph.
Community activists Jeffrey S. Rosan and Thomas Coat, who've been lobbying for years for traffic improvements on Foothill, were elated about this recent turn of events.
“I have lived on this street for 30 years,” said Rosan. “Many of my neighbors who wanted to see something such as this happen nearly 30 years ago (not an exaggeration), have passed away. It is my prayer that, when this is built, it works in a way to reasonably reduce speed and allows vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians the ability to finally cross at this intersection without feeling like an untimely death is just around the corner.”
Rosan noted the new roundabout's design “Will incorporate a method to take the run-off which pools at the base of Foothill and Loring (or turns into a river during big rains) occurs. Now if we can just get more cops to enforce our speed laws … who knows … it could happen.”
Noting traffic on Foothill Boulevard “has always been bad and is getting worse,” Coat pointed out Foothill is a “major connecting street” between Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
“The street is very dangerous, curvy, and has elevation changes,” said Coat adding, “We went to the PB Planning Group and they backed us.”
Coat gave kudos to councilwoman Zapf for “making this a priority item in the 2018 budget so we can finally see some action on it.”
Coat added PB residents are still looking to install other traffic-calming measures on streets west of Foothill Boulevard.
“There's not a single crosswalk on the entire street (Foothill) from Beryl to Fanuel,” Coat pointed out.
The announcement that the roundabout at Foothill/Loring will be built is the first step in the traffic-calming process. It is hoped that additional traffic-calming measures will follow. Those could include an additional roundabout at Vickie/Foothill, lighted crosswalks, electronic speed limit signs and smaller barriers to control speeds.
Roundabout design work also may seek to solve drainage issues that cause flooding at the Loring/Foothill intersection following storms.