County making progress on design of Rancho Santa Fe roundabouts

The San Diego County Administration Center.
The San Diego County Administration Center.
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego County continues work on the design of three Rancho Santa Fe roundabouts on the heavily traveled and congested Del Dios Highway/Paseo Delicias corridor. The three roundabouts are being drawn up for the intersections of El Camino del Norte, El Montevideo and Via de la Valle in front of the Village Presbyterian Church.

The approximately $12 million project is yet to be funded.

According to Cynthia Curtis, project manager with the county, the plan is to get the project “shovel ready” this year in order to be competitive for regional grant funding opportunities in 2024 that would allow the project to finally move forward.

The Rancho Santa Fe community has long been seeking a traffic solution to relieve congestion on the busy stretch of highway.

“Due to the historical nature of the area, solutions like road widening and traffic signals were not a preferred solution,” said Curtis, who provided a project update to the Rancho Santa Fe Association board in June. “The use of the roundabouts would allow for continuous flow of traffic instead of hard stops and starts of traffic signals or stop signs and would reduce the backups and delays along the corridor.”

The very first environmental review document for the roundabouts was circulated back in 2008. The County Board of Supervisors approved the project in 2016 after the community shared its preference for roundabouts over traffic signals at the intersections. Four years later in 2020, then Supervisor Jim Desmond was instrumental in getting $3 million of county funding allocated toward the design process that is currently underway.

“Within the Association we really have the ability to install these structures to highlight the community aesthetics within the roundabouts and pull in some of the design characteristics of this specific area,” said Curtis.

The size of the roundabouts is 105 feet from curb to curb with a center island. The design includes median landscaping and improved safety for pedestrians and equestrians with a 10-feet wide decomposed granite wide pathway, flashing beacons at the crossings and embedded lighting in the roadway. Bicycle access will also be improved, giving them full lane access through the roundabout instead of having them use the shoulder.

Curtis said the county is moving toward having 70% of the design completed as they continue working on a hydrology study, permitting for geotechnical studies, roadway profiles, refining the bus shelter design and considering adjacent uses like the church parking lot.

To complete the roundabouts may require some land acquisition—this will primarily impact properties located near the intersections but some may be impacted for trail connectivity or for the new bus shelters, she said.

“What we’ve tried to do is fit these structures within the road right-of- way as much as possible to really minimize the temporary and permanent impacts to the property owners,” Curtis said

Once the design is completed the county will have a better idea of where property is needed to be acquired and Curtis said they will then hammer out the details of fair market valuation and the compensation offered to private parcel owners.

When construction funds are identified, the build-out is estimated to last 12-18 months. During construction, there may be some lane closures and traffic detours but under all circumstances, the county would maintain emergency access.