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Ask Dr. Rich
Rich Simons | Upper East 11th Street

Q – I recently heard a rumor that there were some changes being planned for the intersection of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street. Do you know anything about this? – s.b.

I didn’t at first, but I heard the same rumors and looked into it. According to the city’s Traffic Engineer, they “have added an exclusive phase for pedestrians to cross in both directions at the same time, but it does not currently support the diagonal crossing, AKA scramble. A diagonal crossing here would slow down the through traffic and require curb ramp and signal upgrades.”

So “scrambles” are not on the menu. And that’s a relief. Looky, let’s consider our demographics here. How long do you think the executive in the powder blue Beemer, eager to get home to his chardonnay and his Barcalounger, is going to sit idling while an octogenarian shuffles a walker all the way from Smashburger to the Americana? There would be carnage on the CDM.

However, since the winds of change appear to be blowing, it may be time for me to once again try to deal with the Awful Acre of Asphalt that is the centerpiece of our town. Faithful readers of my column will no doubt remember the many excellent suggestions I have made over the years. The first one, long ago, was obvious – underground the streets! Turn the entire intersection into a lush garden, with rose gardens and tall hedges with meandering paths where lovers can stroll at sunset. Too expensive, they said.

After sulking for a few years I said: “Okay, then. Underground the sidewalks. And follow the example of a number of European cities. The entire area under the intersection can be made into a fair-sized shopping mall whose rents will easily underwrite the cost of the undergrounding.” Again, no takers.

But years later, when the city began talking about turning all the CDM intersections into roundabouts, I jumped on the opportunity to suggest an elaborate fountain at 15th Street, with colored lights playing on arcs of water, and in the middle a life-size statue of our spiritual founder, Zel Camiel, iconic Greek sailor’s hat perched on his head, gazing down 15th Street toward the horizon. Unfortunately, this truly excellent idea got mixed up with a lot of other issues, and the villagers tossed out the baby with the bathwater.

So here we go again, and this will probably be my last shot at solving our chief headache, so pay attention because I’m going to give it to you in one word . . . bridges! To be more explicit . . . four bridges. But none of those modern brushed aluminum and concrete atrocities. No, no, no. We will want good old Roman arches crafted in brick and stone. They will blend well, I imagine, with at least two of the buildings on that corner. And the views from the tops of the arches could be gonzo!

As we all know, the “Del Mar Way” is Citizen Committees. So how about it, City Fathers? How about appointing an SOB (“Study of Bridges”) Committee?



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