Crews began digging up streets and constructing concrete forms at Fifth Avenue in Ash Street this week, the first section of a large grid of protected lanes for bike riders and others.
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) said on Friday that the 4.5 miles of bikeways would run from B Street downtown all the way to Washington Street in Hillcrest and back down again on Fourth Avenue. Riders can also bike over to Balboa Park from Fifth Avenue via dedicated lanes on Grape, Juniper and Nutmeg Streets.
"San Diegans are walking and biking more during the pandemic, and this project will provide safe and convenient options for people to continue to choose active transportation, even when the health crisis is far behind us," SANDAG vice-chair and Encinitas mayor Catherine Blakespear said in a news release issued on Friday.
Photos: Massive Bike-Path Project Will Connect Downtown, Hillcrest, Balboa Park
Construction on the $12 million Uptown Bikeways project is expected to be completed in 2022, after nearly 100 community presentations, 10 workshops and nearly a decade of work.
Not surprisingly, loud objections about the considerable loss of parking were made during the planning process. Officials said, though, that they made considerable efforts to find creative solutions and work with the community to identify and select "locations for parking conversions on adjacent streets and ultimately were able to provide a surplus of parking."
While they're at it, SANDAG said that they would be creating new crosswalks and improving others, updating curb ramps and adding parking for people with disabilities, and would install "new lighting and landscaping and a variety of intersection treatments that will increase safety for everyone."
Nobody likes to hear construction work, of course: SANDAG officials said workers would mostly be employed on the project from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. They also said special accommodations would be undertaken for businesses utilizing temporary outdoor permits during the pandemic.