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Imperial Beach's 9th Street squeezed to slow the cars

Crosswalks, bike lanes, pop-outs, pedestrian medians – by the end of the year

In 2017, a child on a bike was struck by a car at Elm Avenue and 9th Street. In January 2020, a man walking on 9th Street near Ebony Avenue was hit and killed.
In 2017, a child on a bike was struck by a car at Elm Avenue and 9th Street. In January 2020, a man walking on 9th Street near Ebony Avenue was hit and killed.

A street known for accidents is being redesigned to make it safer, while also being eyed as the new path for the rapid bus between Otay Mesa and Imperial Beach.

City officials see the five-month-old rapid route as an economic driver for the future, even as residents of 3rd Street — where the buses now run — want it moved.

While some view the changes as a squeeze on 9th Street, officials say the Complete Streets project will make the one-mile stretch safer for everyone, from bicyclists to drivers. The $4,545,500 project, funded in part by a state grant, will fold in bike lanes, narrowing, curb pop-outs and other traffic calming features.


In 2017, a child on a bike was struck by a car at Elm Avenue and 9th Street. Neighbors said stop signs had long been needed at the intersection, where accidents were common. In January 2020, a man walking on 9th Street near Ebony Avenue was hit and killed. Reports said there was no crosswalk at the intersection, and no stop sign or traffic light.

Both locations will see safety improvements that include a four-way stop at 9th and Elm and a rapid flashing beacon at Ebony, where a new crosswalk will go in. Grove Street, which lacks a crosswalk, will finally have one. In all, there will be five new enhanced crosswalks. A pedestrian median will go in at 9th and Holly Ave., where drivers often cut through.


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Critics say the many stops will push drivers onto side streets. But during the public outreach phase, speeding was a recurrent theme. People wanted crosswalks with lights; a wider sidewalk between IB Boulevard and Fern; pavement rehab; and more landscaping.

At a city council meeting last week to approve the final design, public works director Juan Larios said the project will mimic what was done on Imperial Beach Boulevard a few years ago.

Construction is expected to be mostly completed by the end of this year.


There is still no timeline for relocation of the rapid bus route, but the city council talked in favor of keeping the route — somewhere — and settled on 9th Street over 13th, which bus company representatives said was too wide of a loop, as the preferred alternative.

Residents of 3rd Street, who said they were caught off guard by the new route, have been calling for its elimination from the city altogether.

At this meeting, there were more supporters than critics.  

Randy Torres-Van Vleck compared the revamped streets projects to riding his bike before the Bayshore Bikeway arrived and he was forced to use Palm Avenue, a dangerous route. "The bikeway has improved the quality of life and safety of those who use it."

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In 2017, a child on a bike was struck by a car at Elm Avenue and 9th Street. In January 2020, a man walking on 9th Street near Ebony Avenue was hit and killed.
In 2017, a child on a bike was struck by a car at Elm Avenue and 9th Street. In January 2020, a man walking on 9th Street near Ebony Avenue was hit and killed.

A street known for accidents is being redesigned to make it safer, while also being eyed as the new path for the rapid bus between Otay Mesa and Imperial Beach.

City officials see the five-month-old rapid route as an economic driver for the future, even as residents of 3rd Street — where the buses now run — want it moved.

While some view the changes as a squeeze on 9th Street, officials say the Complete Streets project will make the one-mile stretch safer for everyone, from bicyclists to drivers. The $4,545,500 project, funded in part by a state grant, will fold in bike lanes, narrowing, curb pop-outs and other traffic calming features.


In 2017, a child on a bike was struck by a car at Elm Avenue and 9th Street. Neighbors said stop signs had long been needed at the intersection, where accidents were common. In January 2020, a man walking on 9th Street near Ebony Avenue was hit and killed. Reports said there was no crosswalk at the intersection, and no stop sign or traffic light.

Both locations will see safety improvements that include a four-way stop at 9th and Elm and a rapid flashing beacon at Ebony, where a new crosswalk will go in. Grove Street, which lacks a crosswalk, will finally have one. In all, there will be five new enhanced crosswalks. A pedestrian median will go in at 9th and Holly Ave., where drivers often cut through.


Sponsored
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Critics say the many stops will push drivers onto side streets. But during the public outreach phase, speeding was a recurrent theme. People wanted crosswalks with lights; a wider sidewalk between IB Boulevard and Fern; pavement rehab; and more landscaping.

At a city council meeting last week to approve the final design, public works director Juan Larios said the project will mimic what was done on Imperial Beach Boulevard a few years ago.

Construction is expected to be mostly completed by the end of this year.


There is still no timeline for relocation of the rapid bus route, but the city council talked in favor of keeping the route — somewhere — and settled on 9th Street over 13th, which bus company representatives said was too wide of a loop, as the preferred alternative.

Residents of 3rd Street, who said they were caught off guard by the new route, have been calling for its elimination from the city altogether.

At this meeting, there were more supporters than critics.  

Randy Torres-Van Vleck compared the revamped streets projects to riding his bike before the Bayshore Bikeway arrived and he was forced to use Palm Avenue, a dangerous route. "The bikeway has improved the quality of life and safety of those who use it."

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