The four-lane, tree-lined Coast Hwy. 101 through Leucadia — a roadway that’s facilitated nine decades of cruising — changed on Wednesday, February 6.
Since the 1930s until 1964, the highway served as the only arterial highway between San Diego and L.A. When I-5 opened up in November of ’64, the road became a less-congested drive to neighborhood shops, restaurants, and surf spots.
On February 6, the City of Encinitas debuted the first phase of its Leucadia traffic improvement plan, reducing the Coast Highway’s two northbound lanes to one and reserving the right lane for a wide bike lane.
Going northbound from A Street to Leucadia Boulevard, motorists in the right lane will now see signs and bike symbols on the pavement — what traffic engineers call “sharrows.” Basically, motorists must share the complete right lane with bicyclists. North of Leucadia Boulevard, to the city limits at La Costa Avenue, the entire right lane has become a dedicated bike lane, reducing vehicular traffic to one lane.
Opponents and small-business owners made a final effort to stall the project as the Coastal Commission noted its objections to the narrowing of the road that extends from Oceanside to La Jolla. Even with the advice of city staff, which feared the Coastal Commission may levy financial penalties, the council voted 5-0 at their January 30 meeting to proceed with the new lane markings.
The ten-year “improvement” plan, originally promoted by the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association (a quasi-chamber of commerce), may eventually include five traffic roundabouts, the realignment of sidewalks, and the replacement of eucalyptus with smaller, less invasive trees, all in an effort to create a reduced-traffic, bicycle-and pedestrian-friendly, art-infused, curbside dining “village.”