Restructuring Carlsbad with roundabouts


Mac Harden

This roundabout at the border of Carlsbad and Oceanside organizes traffic flow and also looks amazing at dusk. As construction on this roundabout finishes it will become a very pretty traffic coordinator.

Solving a traffic problem and making the city more accessible to pedestrians and bikers, the city of Carlsbad built a roundabout at the intersection of Carlsbad Blvd. and State St. The steel sculpture in the center of the roundabout—put in place on Aug. 28—marks the end of this eight-month project.

“There was a history of difficulty in that intersection,” construction manager John Maashoff said. “Before this project, there was no sidewalk along the lagoon; pedestrians were kind of just on their own. So safety was also a main reason.”

Roundabouts have spiked in popularity throughout the U.S., as experience shows their ability to reduce traffic, and significantly lower the amount of traffic accidents. It also relates to Carlsbad’s current movement toward a more pedestrian and biker oriented city.

“Widening bike lanes, building traffic circles, making more bike racks around Carlsbad Village; there’s a lot of those little projects we’ve been doing,” associate engineer Jonathan Schauble said. “It’s all part of a general plan, this movement towards more livable streets.”

The San Diego Association of Governments funded $800,000 for the project, about half of the total budget. This includes $100,000 for the “Coastal Helix,” the stainless steel sculpture by artist Roger White Stoller, standing in the center of the roundabout.

“The sculpture depicts this kind of natural, coastal environment,” Schauble said. “It really incorporates a lot of the elements of this area.”

The project went smoothly for the most part, with only a few minor difficulties. During construction, traffic slowed as cars were directed around the building site. They also discovered that birds nested in the area chosen for construction.

“We actually hired biologists to do bird surveys during construction,” Schauble said. “We had to monitor to make sure the birds didn’t interfere with construction and to make sure we didn’t interfere with their nesting patterns.”

This project added to the county-wide “Coastal Rail Trail” as well. Upon completion, the trail will span multiple cities along the coast, and provide an unbroken path for pedestrians and bikers.

“Other reaches [of the trail] are not complete yet,” Maashoff said. “I don’t know if it ever will be complete; a lot comes down to funding. But its envisioned someday to trail all the way from Oceanside to downtown San Diego.”