The Chula Vista City Council last week approved plans to revamp a 1.25-mile stretch of F Street in what city leaders view as a key project to improve access between the waterfront and downtown area.
The project, which covers the segment between Bay Boulevard and Third Avenue, will expand sidewalks to include bike paths, improve crosswalks, and add trees or plants along the road or on medians.
Plans also include a roundabout at Bay Boulevard and the transformation of an unused railroad bridge above Interstate 5 into a pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists.
In considering the details of the project during a City Council meeting on March 13, council members said they believe the project will breathe new life into the western region of Chula Vista.
The hope is the project will encourage residents and tourists alike to visit both the waterfront and downtown areas, which are connected by westbound/eastbound roads such as F Street.
The 1.25-mile stretch includes homes, businesses and destinations such as the Chula Vista Civic Center library. Friendship and Memorial parks are not far off the path.
City staff told the City Council the project is set to make much-needed improvements. Under the current conditions on F Street, there are no bike lanes or sidewalks in some sections, and many of the trees and plants are in bad shape.
Plans for the improvements are divided by three sub-sections of F Street:
- The stretch between Bay Boulevard and Broadway will include one traffic lane in each direction, a center, left-turn lane and space for curb parking on both sides of the road.
- Between Broadway and Fourth Avenue, there will be a traffic lane in each direction, space for curb parking and stormwater planters.
- The section between Fourth and Third avenues will include a traffic lane in each direction and a median with left-turn pockets.
Each segment also will include a 12-foot-wide path for pedestrians and bicyclists on both sides of the road.
Plans also call for signage, such as street banners, in several spots “to promote the notion of F Street as an important street in Chula Vista,” city architect Mark Caro told the City Council.
City architects, who worked with urban design firm MIG, Inc. and a team of subcontractors to develop the plans for the past year and a half, had considered a concept that included standard bike lanes. However, in a series of workshops, community members generally preferred the idea of a shared bike and pedestrian pathway, which was considered the safer option for bicyclists, according to city staff.
During public comments at the City Council meeting last week, community members generally supported the plans but also brought forward two suggestions.
Randy Van Vleck, of the Bike + Walk Chula Vista campaign, called on the city to create a pathway from F Street to the nearby Bayfront/E Street trolley station. He noted that F Street, unlike E Street, does not have I-5 on-ramps or off-ramps, providing safer access to the trolley station.
Randy Epstein, of local land-use group Crossroads II, urged the city to implement a trolley cars system on F Street using existing railroad tracks.
“F Street would be the perfect place to have a trolley, he said. “The trolley itself would be the attraction to get people to hop on and see what’s what.”
Council members supported the two ideas and agreed to look into the feasibility of both.
Utility undergrounding work for the project is expected to start in July 2019, with construction of the first phase of the project projected to begin in December 2020.
The city is seeking a $2.5 million grant from SANDAG to pay for a fraction of the estimated $4.78 million first phase, which covers Bay Boulevard to Broadway.
Caro said the city has not yet identified funding for the rest of the costs of the $11.5 million project. He said the estimate could change in the design development and construction stages.
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