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East Cliff Drive Pedestrian Walk Project

Location: East Cliff Drive (17th Avenue to Palisades Avenue)


Project Manager: David Reid


Background and History: East Cliff Drive is an east-west arterial street that is a scenic alternative to Portola Drive and is used by motorists, bicycles, and pedestrians. The primary goal of this improvement is to create a separate and continuous pedestrian pathway and bicycle lanes from 17th Avenue to Palisades Avenue. This 1.1 mile segment of road and pathway improvements will dovetail into existing sidewalks at 17th Avenue and Palisades Avenue. This project represents the longest segment needed to complete the continuous walking path from the Santa Cruz Harbor to 41st Avenue (see Twin Lakes Beach Front, Schwan Lake Pathway & East Cliff Parkway Projects for more information). Due to the scenic nature of East Cliff Drive and proximity to beaches and the coastline, the improvements along this portion of East Cliff Drive will provide a significant recreational use for all County residents.

The Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) have developed schematic plans for the design of roadway and roadside improvements (Route Concept) for East Cliff Drive between 17th Avenue and Palisades Avenue (See County Board of Supervisors Agenda Item Number 48, on June 10th 2008 for more information).  Plans include maintaining the existing travel lanes, improving the bike lanes, improving the safety and functionality of the East Cliff Drive and 26th Avenue intersection, and building new pathways, and improving drainage where needed along this stretch of East Cliff Drive. Other proposed improvements include maintaining the majority of the existing trees, providing a meandering pathway edge where possible, and improving drainage using stormwater best management practices where suitable.

A series of community meetings were held to consider the proposed improvements to East Cliff Drive in 2008. Alternatives, including turning East Cliff Drive from 17th Avenue to Palisades Avenue into an eastbound one-way street to create a scenic esplanade were evaluated. Through a series of three neighborhood focus meetings, and discussion of the potential traffic impacts, the majority of the community opposed further consideration of the one-way traffic pattern. Subsequently the RDA and DPW staff presented the two-way route concept to the community in late winter 2008. The general consensus was that the East Cliff pathway was necessary to improve pedestrian access, safety, and convenience along this scenic stretch of road.


Project Status: Preliminary conceptual design plans are currently being prepared to implement the Route Concept approved by the Board and Community in 2008.  These conceptual design plans will be used to identify design and coastal permit issues with respect to the County Right of Way, existing utilities, trees, driveways, landscaping, coastal access, and drainage. After RDA and DPW have developed the preliminary plans for East Cliff Drive the plans will be presented at a community meeting (Winter 2011) prior to submitting a Coastal Development Permit application. Construction is estimated to begin 2013.