Carlsbad constructing North County’s first coastal roundabout

State street roundabout before

The City of Carlsbad has begun construction of a new traffic roundabout at the intersection of Carlsbad Boulevard and State Street, making it the first roundabout on the historic coastal highway in North San Diego County.

The single-lane roundabout will make it safer for travelers to go through the intersection, whether they’re in cars, on bicycles or on foot. It will feature artwork welcoming people as they cross Buena Vista Lagoon and enter Carlsbad from Oceanside.

“The Carlsbad Boulevard-State Street intersection is our city’s traditional northern gateway, so it’s a perfect location for the type of project that takes advantage of the cultural and natural resources that make Carlsbad special,” said Construction Manager John Maashoff. “Located right next to the lagoon, with the ocean only a few hundred feet away, the roundabout will stand as a beautiful invitation to people entering our city, no matter what their form of travel.”

The roundabout is the first major construction project that will ease traffic and remove barriers to pedestrians, bicyclists and others wishing to access Carlsbad’s coast along Historic Highway 101. It is part of the City of Carlsbad’s “livable streets” program, which recognizes that streets should be designed for everyone, not just people in cars, and can play an important role in creating a sense of place and even spurring economic development.  Watch a video about livable streets.

Other livable streets projects along Carlsbad Boulevard include “pedestrian islands” along the beach and two “Carlsbad Scramble” intersections on Carlsbad Boulevard at Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue. The city has also added miles of new bike lanes and hundreds of new bike racks and bike corrals.

Traffic engineers have found that roundabouts are preferable to traffic signals or stop signs in some locations because they keep traffic flowing at safe speeds through an intersection while improving access for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The roundabout project will incorporate construction of a Coastal Rail Trail segment along State Street between Oak Avenue in Carlsbad and Eaton Street in Oceanside. The Coastal Rail Trail is a bicycle and pedestrian trail paralleling the railroad tracks that, when completed, will connect the San Luis Rey River in Oceanside with the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego.

North of the roundabout, the trail will be placed on the west side of Carlsbad Boulevard, and the project will include bike lanes in each direction and a sidewalk on the east side of the roadway across the lagoon, linking Oceanside and Carlsbad. Vehicle travel lanes will be reduced from three to two across the lagoon to provide room for the trail, sidewalk, and bike lanes without encroaching on the lagoon preserve.

The roundabout will feature artwork designed by Bay Area artist Roger Stoller. Stoller’s work is represented in the permanent collections of cities, organizations and individuals across the country, including Google in Mountain View, Calif., and the cities of Stockton, Palo Alto and Allen, Tex. Stoller was selected after a national search by a City of Carlsbad public art advisory committee made up of City of Carlsbad Arts Commissioners, community stakeholders, public art professionals and City of Carlsbad staff. This spring, the artist’s design concepts will be presented to the City of Carlsbad’s Arts Commission, and put on public display for community comment before being forwarded to the City Council for review and approval.

Construction of the roundabout will enhance the entryway into the historic Carlsbad Village by allowing vehicles to make turns that are not possible under the intersection’s current Y-shaped configuration. Vehicles traveling north on Carlsbad Boulevard cannot currently turn right onto State Street, and vehicles traveling north on State Street cannot turn south onto Carlsbad Boulevard. After the roundabout is completed vehicles will be able to turn in any direction between State Street and Carlsbad Boulevard.

The city also will install “sharrow lanes” — lanes shared by vehicles and bicycles — on State Street, welcoming bicyclists into the Village.

The construction project began on Jan. 6 and should be completed this spring. Maashoff said that the city does not expect to close Carlsbad Boulevard during the four-month project, but work crews will occasionally reduce travel to one lane, with flag crews controlling the lanes. State Street will be closed intermittently during construction, with motorists detoured to Grand Avenue.

“The goal is to minimize construction impacts to residents and businesses,” Maashoff said.

The city awarded a contract in the amount of $996,000 to Portillo Concrete Inc. to construct the roundabout. An $800,000 Active Transportation Grant from the San Diego Association of Governments, and money from the city’s Gas Tax Fund are funding the project. The city has contracted with Dudek, an Encinitas-based engineering and environmental firm, to manage the project.

For more information
Contact John Maashoff, 760-434-2856,

City media contact
Kristina Ray, 760-434-2957,

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