Coronado Mayor Casey Tanaka said that since the removal of the tolls that paid off the Coronado bridge’s construction in 2002, “there have been many complaints about how the entryway into the city was becoming run down and unsightly.”
The proposal to renovate the toll booth plaza was first presented to the City Council in November of 2013. “We had a very low budget, and the council members felt that the community wasn’t really involved in the design,” city engineer Ed Walton said.
Poll results landed right in the middle
Representatives from Michael Baker International, the engineering and consulting firm hired by the city to design the new entryway, hosted an open workshop June 4, visited 12 community groups and used an online survey. Project manager Stephanie Cheng said that residents place the highest priority on traffic calming, safety, landscaping, connectivity, the inclusion of art and signage, and the ability to build on the existing structure. “After the first workshop, we came up with six design alternatives that range from easy, quick fixes to long term and very expensive ideas,” said Cheng. “The results that came in when the poll closed landed right in the middle.”
According to Walton, the roundabout option was favored by over half of the respondents to the survey, which closed on July 4.
Tanaka said that speculating how the project will be funded is “premature,” though there are plenty of possibilities. “Many ideas are being pitched, but without any financial commitments made by anyone,” he said.
Cut and cover — the most expensive option
Though most attendees of the June 4 workshop advocated for the roundabout, Coronado residents have varying opinions. Steffenie Fish Andreasen favors the most expensive cut & cover option. “It would be so awesome to have that extra recreation space,” she said. Susan Hargitt said that she’d love to see an arched structure similar to the toll booth plaza topped with Coronado-themed signage. “It could be a beautiful and welcoming first impression of the island,” she said.
Coronadoan Sarina Guida prefers the roundabout or boulevard options to the cut & cover. “Coronado is such a beautiful place,” she said. “Why drive under the beauty when you could drive through it?”
Will Caltrans build bridge suicide barrier?
Coronado resident Brad Gerbel opposes the renovation altogether. “The bridge is nearly 50 years old and we need to keep in mind that it will require money for refurbishment and/or replacement in the future, which should be funded by bridge tolls,” he said. “We also need Caltrans to build a suicide prevention barrier, which could be funded by a toll. It is for these reasons that I believe we should keep the toll plaza for future toll collection.”
Cheng said that the next steps of the project include refining the top three preferred alternatives and presenting them to the city council on a yet-to-be-announced date.