Oceanside City Council Approves ‘Road Diet' for Coast Highway

Officials in the city of Oceanside voted 4 to 2 in favor of a proposal to reduce the number of traffic lanes along Coast Highway.

Part of the plan is to reduce what is currently four lanes of vehicle traffic into two lanes of vehicle traffic with the other two lanes designated for parking and bicycle traffic.

In addition, six intersections will also be replaced with roundabouts.

The Coast Highway Corridor Study as it's known will affect a three-mile stretch of the Coast Highway from Harbor Driver to the Buena Vista Lagoon. 

An image from the Traffic Impact Analysis conducted in 2018 for the city of Oceanside.

The project began in 2009 and is part of how the city is looking toward smart growth. One city planner told NBC 7 the proposal would be good for traffic, the environment, and safety.

“The improvements are actually several years out,” said Development Services Director at City of Oceanside Jonathan Borrego. “We need to finalize the design, get the funding in place and then move forward." 

Joel West has lived in Oceanside off-and-on since 1981. He said there has been some opposition to the so-called "Road Diet." 

“[Coast Highway] is the only north-south street particularly in South O west of the freeway,” West said. “It’s really the artery for getting through either down to Carlsbad or up to downtown. We really depend on this. On the weekends and in the summer it really grinds to a halt. Even with four lanes.”

The City Council held an open meeting Wednesday and heard from citizens on both sides of the issue.

"How does this make sense? This needs to be thrown in the trash can. This is not a road diet, this is a road disaster," one speaker said.

The largest opposition came from the group "Save South O," homeowners of South Oceanside who say the plan has nothing in it for locals.

"It’s just going to slow all of our response times both for police and fire, and that is a huge concern,” Colleen Balch said.

Others argue that less cars and more pedestrian and alt-vehicle traffic is the future, and say the plan has the potential to drastically improve the downtown experience.

The proposal will move onto the Coastal Commission for certification, and then the council will have to come with a way to fund a final design of the project.

The city hopes to fund the road improvements through grants from several agencies including SANDAG.

In January, the Encinitas City Council voted to add new traffic features to Leucadia's part of Highway 101. They will be adding four raised crosswalks, more signs, and rumble strips to the road in an effort to slow traffic down. 

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