Plans for a new Coronado Gateway Parkway Plan made the transition from high concept closer to reality at the July 19, 2016, meeting of the Coronado City Council. Specifically, a subcommittee of Councilmembers Mike Woiwode and Richard Bailey worked with representatives of the engineering firm of Michael Baker International and the city staff in reviewing three concepts for new grand entrances to the city.
In his report to the City Council, Coronado Director of Public Services and Engineering Cliff Maurer noted there are five objectives the new Gateway Parkway Plan hopes to achieve including: traffic calming, safety, creation of pedestrian and bicycle crossings, aesthetics and achievability. As we’ll see, achievability, which is a new addition to the gateway criteria, played a large role in eliminating two of the projects from consideration.
There are also other factors at play in any attempt to re-design and improve the main entrance to Coronado off of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. At the bottom of the bridge, which can generically be described as the toll booth area, serves as the home to several agencies including: a Caltrans Facility and maintenance yard; the Wing structure and the toll booths beneath it; a satellite office for the California Highway Patrol and Homeland Security; a major underground electrical substation for SDG&E; the barrier mover for the bridge lanes, euphemistically referred to as ‘The Zipper;” and the ubiquitous orange barrels which provide such a lovely visual element to the approach to the city.
So with that background, Maurer presented three options to the entrance to the city including the Roundabout, Cut and Cover, and a revised third option now being called the Coronado Gateway Parkway Plan. After further investigation into the engineering elements for the Roundabout, it was determined that this concept would cost between $15 million and $20 million to complete, as several of the structures listed above would have to be relocated. It would also take between 10 and 14 years for the Roundabout to be completed. Maurer characterized the concept as, “A massive work effort for small benefit.” In addition, only the middle lane of traffic could function as a true roundabout.
The truly big concept design was the Cut and Cover, which would have created 14 acres of land at the entrance to the city, but the construction portion of the project would last between 11 and 15 years and cost between $60 million and $100 million to implement. Maurer added, “The impact on the city would be enormous. There is no outcry from the public to take on this project.”
Which leaves the Gateway Parkway Plan, which comes with a construction schedule of 3-5 years and a price tag of between $6 million and $8 million. Essentially it’s an upgrade of the status quo. The entrance to the city would be straightened into a boulevard; what is now five lanes of traffic entering the city would be reduced to three and the lanes would all be as narrow as legally possible; landscaping would be enhanced; the wing and toll booth would be retained with the probability of welcoming signage affixed to the wing portion of the structure; the Caltrans building would be spruced up as part of the project and paid for by the city; and lane delineators would be installed by means of a textured road surface. There is also the possibility of adding a pedestrian/bike tunnel as the final phase of the project.
Despite what may sound like a shovel-ready project, Bailey characterized the presentation as, “This meeting is a formal check-in (with the council). In the very near future we will have some real conceptual drawings and prices associated with the project.” Woiwode noted that neither the Roundabout nor the Cut and Cover passed the achievability test. He added, “I haven’t seen this presentation since our meeting with the consultants. I’m hoping we have led the staff and the consultants along the path you (the council) want.”
Councilmember Bill Sandke was a little more aggressive in his thinking, stopping short of being a proponent of the Cut and Cover concept, but perhaps channeled the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe architectural concept of ‘less is more.’ Sandke said, “I’m in favor of getting rid of the Caltrans building and the opportunity to gain more free space. Caltrans doesn’t have a great track record of taking care of what is theirs. We should push a little harder to get rid of the building and the maintenance yard. I would like to keep the wing and maybe make it a third smaller.”
Mayor Casey Tanaka said, “I don’t see that the building going away is worth the fight. My thought is to leave the building alone, but find a way to make it more aesthetically pleasing. The building going away isn’t a hill we need to die on. I don’t want that to be a deal breaker.”
Councilmember Carrie Downey was originally a proponent of the Roundabout, but changed her mind and said, “I don’t see a need to waste that much money. These pictures (from the Maurer presentation) actually opened up some options.”
As the presentation was a staff update, no formal vote was taken. Tanaka said there would be another report on the topic in August and confirmed that as a group the council was no longer considering the Roundabout or Cut and Cover plans going forward.
In other council actions:
• The council received a demonstration from the Information Technology Manager Brian Lewton, regarding the city of Coronado’s new website, which can be found at www.coronado.city. The new website, which replaces an outdated eight-year-old model, has been in development for 18 months. Assistant City Manager Tom Ritter said before introducing Lewton, “The new website is responsive and can be used on your phone or tablet. It’s easier to navigate and it is ADA compliant so a reader can increase the font size. It has very robust content management.”
• By moving three separate items to the consent agenda, the council approved the reappointment of Chelsea Sylvester to a second three-year term on the Library Board of Trustees; named Morgan Miller to a vacancy on the Bicycle Advisory Board; and named Sue Goodwin as an at-large member of the Coronado Tourism Improvement District.
• From a field of four very well-qualified candidates, the council appointed Beth Delano to the Design Review Commission.
• The council approved a joint request from Tanaka and Sandke to initiate future discussions regarding potential effects of climate change in the city.
• City Manager Blair King reported that the probability of approval from Caltrans for installation of a stoplight at Fourth Street and Alameda Boulevard was ‘high.’ The stoplight installation would cost an estimated $277,000.
• Also on the consent agenda, the council approved an agreement between the city and Amalo Brew to operate the coffee cart concession at the Coronado Public Library. The cart will be open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Due to the difficulty of attracting a vendor for the location, the city won’t receive rent for the concession, but will receive $779 for a commercial use permit and a $2,000 deposit to ensure compliance for the agreement of services.
• Under the Oral Communications portion of the agenda, Cultural Arts Commission Chairman Jeff Tyler noted that a new art exhibition had opened at the C3 Gallery, located in the city’s Recreation Center, which will run until September 30, 2016.
The next meeting of the Coronado City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16, 2016, at 4 p.m. The session on August 2, 2016, was previously cancelled for the council’s summer break. City Council meetings are held in the City Hall Council Chambers located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.