UPDATE on San Clemente’s Class 1 on North Coast Hwy

The City Council unanimously voted to approve conceptual plans to make that stretch of roadway a true complete street. In January, 2014, the Planning Commission also unanimously approved the same project (Commission decisions require ratification by the Council). Some details and dimensions have yet to be precisely determined, but City engineers will make every effort to maximize the safety of non-motorized users (yes, that means that I think our engineering staff is awesome!!).

Notably, the City Council strongly concurred with the Planning Commission’s recommendation that the entire project be viewed as the coastal gateway to our Spanish Village by the Sea. I advocated that the project not be considered as an end unto itself; instead, we should see it as an opportunity to create a world-class facility that defines both our gateway and Pacific Coast Bike Route. The potential for economic benefits would be tremendous, as the Class 1 would link San Clemente to the amenities of Dana Point and, via the San Juan Creek Channel Class 1, downtown San Juan Capistrano and the Mission.

With all that in mind, the project will return to the Council for further direction on landscaping details next month.

Here are some key features:

  • Roadway length = 0.9 miles between Ave Estacion and Camino Capistrano.
  • The Class 1 will be on the southbound (ocean) side of PCH, next to the RR bed.
  • Approved roadway configuration:
    • 1 vehicle travel lane* in each direction (same as the current situation, which is technically still a construction zone due to ongoing Marblehead Coastal development).
    • k-rail will extend from existing k-rail in Dana Point to 400 feet south b/c there is insufficient width separating the Class 1 from the vehicular travelway.
    • at the 400-foot point, the k-rail will become a 5-foot wide curbed median that separates the Class 1 from the vehicular roadway.
    • k-rails will likely be eliminated from through the intersections so that high speed bicyclists will use the Class 2 adjacent the motor lanes.
    • a Class 2 striped bike lane will be adjacent the barrier for the entire length of the project, i.e., it will be between the vehicle lane & the Class 1.
    • the Class 2 width will be significantly > minimum stds
    • the northbound side of the roadway between Ave Estacion and the natural bluffs will include a pedestrian sidewalk of variable width (due to r.o.w. limitations). That part of the project is the responsibility of the Marblehead Coastal developer, who’s also responsible for paving the entire roadway width between those two points. The City assumes responsibility from the bluffs north to Camino Capistrano. Likely, the repaving projects will occur before the Class 1 project begins.
  • to enable future landscaping, water lines will be supplied to the median now, rather than later.
  • *While OCTA’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways requires San Clemente’s North Coast Hwy to be a 4-vehicle-lane roadway, that agency was receptive of City engineers’ desire to maintain the current configuration of one lane in each direction. The latter will require a full amendment to the MPAH, which the City intends to pursue.

Here are some potential features:

  • The City will explore the use of trees and other plantings both as a barrier and traffic calming tool to accentuate the City’s gateway. (Note: I added the additional suggestion that the traffic light at PCH/Ave. Estacion be converted to a roundabout with a Spanish-type fountain in its center, but that would be a separate project needing additional funds).
  • At the narrowest segment along the Marblehead Coastal development bluffs, r.o.w. is only 56 feet. So, engineers are considering use of the k-rail along that section to minimize vehicle-bicycle interactions. The April Council meeting will solidify the ultimate design.
  • If funding permits, bulb-outs will be used to shorten pedestrian crossing distances at the intersections of N. Coast Hwy with Camino Capistrano and Camino San Clemente. City transportation engineer, Tom Frank, explained that such pedestrian features shorten pedestrian crossing times, which increases the green light at intersections for motorists.

Here is the budget for the existing project:

  • $78,600: Design funded by:
    • Gas Tax
  • $740,000: Construction (not including landscaping) funded by:
    • $661k Hwy Safety Improvement Program grant
    • $79k City matching funds

Here are upcoming dates related to this project:

  • 2014, April: City Council to approve the 60% design plans so the project can proceed
  • 2014, June: Environmental authorization and permitting
  • 2014, August: CalTrans approval for construction
  • 2014, August: City Council approval of final plans
  • 2015, Early: construction to begin (provided all the ducks are in order)

Special thanks to San Clemente’s Council, Planning Commission (Julia Darden and Don Brown, for attending the March 4 Council meeting), and of course, our engineering staff for striving together to make this project happen. PEDal’s 4 P’s–preparation, persistence, patience, and positive thinking–are bearing real fruit as our Spanish Village becomes a model Complete Streets community.