SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The city’s goal of turning parts of downtown San Diego into walkable “slow streets” took a step forward on Tuesday.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other community leaders were on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter to unveil the latest phase in the Gaslamp Promenade project -- the installation of bollards that will allow for more foot traffic in the area.
Starting July 1, Fifth Avenue -- from Broadway to K Street -- will be shut down daily from 12 p.m.-2 a.m. The bollards will keep vehicle traffic out of the street.
City officials said the Fifth Avenue closures “will not impact cross-street traffic on east and west streets connecting to Fifth Avenue.”
Officials added, “Outside permitted hours, the street will be open to vehicle traffic to allow for services, trash and recycling collection, and deliveries. The steel bollards will be removed daily by the Gaslamp Quarter Association and stored nearby when the street is open to vehicles.”
In a press release, Gloria said, “San Diego’s downtown rebounded from the pandemic faster and stronger than most other U.S. cities, and one of the factors that helped keep our Gaslamp Quarter restaurants and shops in business was our closure of Fifth Avenue to vehicle traffic to make it an enticing outdoor attraction. Today, we celebrate a major milestone in our effort to create a permanent promenade along Fifth Avenue by unveiling new bollards that will turn the whole street over to pedestrians from lunchtime to closing time, creating a dynamic place for all to enjoy.”
City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who represents District 3, added, “The Fifth Avenue Promenade will promote a bustling pedestrian atmosphere that is safe and accessible. It will highlight the best of Downtown San Diego including its diverse dining, shopping and entertainment that are welcoming to locals and visitors alike.”
The Gaslamp Quarter Association had been closing the road from K Street to F Street at times during the week since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, the City Council approved a proposal to designated Fifth Avenue as a “slow street,” adding two more blocks from F Street to Broadway.
Local businesses can expect to see thousands of people utilizing the pedestrian walkway every day.
“Now with the streets being open, we see much more utilization because we have so much more space for people to wander around on the streets. I would say 50,000 people easily on a weekend night in the Gaslamp Quarter,” said Michael Trimble, executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association.
The next step in the multi-phase project is to freshen up streets by adding more trees and replacing asphalt.
ABC 10News learned a feasibility study is underway to calculate potential costs.
Gloria said the city is also working on plans to design a walkable promenade on Normal Street in Hillcrest.
“Walkability and pedestrian activation aren’t just best practices in creating welcoming urban spaces – they’re the lifeblood of vibrancy in our urban neighborhoods. The Gaslamp Promenade is pushing the envelope of what we know our urban center should be by transforming one of Downtown’s most sought-out destinations into a pedestrian-friendly corridor while also improving public safety. We’re excited to see how this project contributes to the continuing evolution of Downtown and look forward to it being another great addition to our urban center’s mix of quality outdoor amenities,” Betsy Brennan, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, said in a press release.