The City of Coronado has pursued talks on the relinquishment of SR 282 and SR 75, and it looks like those will be coming to a successful close in the near future. What changes in the Orange Avenue corridor do you see as viable given local control of the environment?
I am running for City Council to ensure as much local control of Coronado as possible, taking into account financial responsibility. I am in full support of the City of Coronado’s efforts to obtain the relinquishment from the State of California/Caltrans of SR 282 (Third and Fourth Street, and a block of Alameda near Naval Base Coronado) and SR 75. The relinquishment does not include the bridge and the large cost of maintaining it.
Local control of these roads was the primary goal, but it was necessary for the City to ensure it was fiscally responsible. The great news is that the City, credit to the Council and our City Manager Blair King and staff, did reach a financially responsible agreement with Caltrans. After significant negotiations, on June 16, 2020, City Council voted unanimously 5-0 to accept the relinquishment of the roads as well as $22 million dollars from Caltrans to mitigate the cost of maintaining the roads. In addition, the Council set aside an additional $9.3 million dollars. The total of over $30 million dollars is set aside to ensure the City can maintain these roads in perpetuity without impacting Coronado and our future budgets. The City is also properly insured for any liability issues.
With local control, we can now ensure the beautiful Orange Avenue medians can be preserved as Caltrans could have ordered dramatic changes. In addition, Caltrans will be relinquishing the sidewalks. Local control will allow approved uses such as essential outdoor dining which, given the pandemic, is essential for local businesses. Local control also has the benefit of giving Coronado more control to oppose attempts to have speed limits increased on Orange Avenue and the other streets.
There are many things that City Council may now look at proactively once local control is finalized. These include improving street lighting, improving landscaping, improving pedestrian safety and crosswalks, improving traffic safety as well as bicycle safety and parking. All of these items would also lead to a more business friendly Orange Avenue corridor.
Further, Coronado will now be able to proactively conduct maintenance on these streets. Caltrans did not maintain the streets to the same level as those already controlled by Coronado, including repairing potholes. In addition, we can improve and maintain storm drains. In light of recent hot weather, many may have already forgotten the flooding and heavy rains a year ago, but it is a serious issue we need to address, and now we can do better.
We will now have the ability to implement safety and beautification measures to address the dangerous traffic and pedestrian crossing situation on Third and Fourth Streets. We will also be able to improve the medians in front of the Shores.
In the past, when Coronado had sought changes and improvements, the Caltrans approval process was very costly, slow and burdensome to City staff and denials were common. This will change with relinquishment. I expect the State Legislature to pass the necessary legislation in early 2021 to finalize relinquishment of control to Coronado.