By Brian Schrader
Over the past year, the sights and sounds of construction have consistently filled the air along the length of Meade Avenue, from Kensington to University Heights, just north of El Cajon Boulevard. Almost every intersection has been replaced by new roundabouts or retrofitted with bend-outs at traffic lights, while large portions of Meade have been retrofitted with new buffered bike lanes and traffic chokers. In the past few months, the Meade-Georgia project—which aims to provide a safe bike-route from Kensington to just north of Balboa Park—is near completion. Construction is mostly finished, and car travel has returned to the roads alongside the bikeway, yet cones and other barriers still prevent entry to anyone attempting to actually bike on the new bike paths.
Both SANDAG—the intergovernmental agency responsible for the project—and a spokesperson for Council-member Steven Whitburn’s office confirmed that the project is on-track to meet its official completion date and be fully open to the public in the spring of 2022. However, if current progress continues, SANDAG anticipates that the project may conclude this fall, leading to earlier public availability.
SANDAG further explained that, “[w]hile the major civil construction work for many of the traffic calming features along Meade Avenue has been completed, there is still some additional work that needs to be performed including the installation of traffic signal push buttons, signage, and pavement markings.”
According to SANDAG, the bikeway will not open until after, “the final striping and signage are installed.” And that striping will only commence once the “[m]ajor capital improvements (traffic circles, curb extensions, bend-outs, etc.)” are completed, and any needed resurfacing is finished.
Planning for this 3.5 mile bikeway began over five years ago, and SANDAG began construction in 2019. The project is one part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan and Climate Action Plan. The sprawling North Park | Mid-City Bikeways initiative will, according to SANDAG’s website, “add approximately 13 miles of bike boulevards and protected bikeways and connect the North Park and Mid-City neighborhoods.” The intended goal is to give locals easier, safer and traffic-calming access to their favorite neighborhood destinations, like many popular spots along both Park Boulevard, Adams Avenue and Balboa Park. The project is also connected to other bikeway networks which will provide bikers a safe route to downtown via the Uptown and the Fourth and Fifth Avenue Bikeways that are also currently under construction.
The plan includes raised, speed-bump-style crosswalks that provide a safer environment for pedestrians, chokers which reduce vehicle traffic speeds and isolate pedestrians and bikers from vehicle traffic as well as roundabouts (which SANDAG calls traffic circles). The roundabouts provide space for decorative hardscapes and local art installations, though currently only rock hardscapes are present along the Meade section of the bikeway.
The total projected cost is estimated at $9 million and is funded, along with many other regional projects, by a half-cent sales tax for transportation approved by voters countywide.
More information can be found at www.keepsandiegomoving.com
— Brian Schrader is a software developer in Normal Heights and writer at www.democracyandprogress.com.