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Residents fuming over speeders on detour street for San Marcos Creek Project

In North County, the San Marcos Creek restoration project has been going on for nearly three years, and the recent closure of a major thoroughfare has some residents fuming. KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen takes us to a residential detour street where neighbors say drivers are speeding through.

In an otherwise quiet San Marcos neighborhood, in the middle of a Monday afternoon, car after car can be seen careening down a residential street.

Residents say drivers are not obeying the 25 mph speed limit.

"The people are just speeding through here," Russell Wilson said. "They have no regard for the safety of the people. I have neighbors, and myself included, that are afraid to cross the street during rush hour to the mailbox."


Wilson lives on Applewilde Drive between Discovery Street and Via Vera Cruz. The street is being used as a detour while Discovery Street is closed at Via Vera Cruz for the San Marcos Creek Project construction. Wilson said since the city closed Discovery Street, traffic has increased tenfold.

He said it's a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

"My belief is that there will be a fatality out here. All of these kids are riding around on electric bicycles now. And last night, I actually saw somebody run that stop sign at over 60 miles an hour," Wilson said, pointing to a stop sign at the intersection of Applewilde Drive and Via Vera Cruz.

Discovery Elementary School is at the other end of Applewilde Drive. Wilson's neighbor down the street, Beth Avant, said she is concerned about the children's safety.

"Kids are constantly riding their bikes and walking up and down the street during the school year, but then also during the summer months," she said. "So, it has been definitely more dangerous on this street."


She said traffic is gridlocked during pick-up and drop-off times at the school. "It's sanity at that time," Avant said.

City officials said they understand the residents' frustration and have been working to reduce traffic volume on Applewilde Drive. Isaac Etchamendy, San Marcos' Development Services director, said the city has been working closely with residents living on that street as construction progresses.

"We've also been asking that people avoid the area because that is key about managing traffic in the area," he said. "It's just being respectful to the communities in which we live and making sure that we understand that this is a detour, but it's only temporary."

While there have been some construction delays, such as the reopening of the South Bent Avenue bridge, which was reopened at the end of June — months after the expected reopening date — Etchamendy said the project is still on-time and on budget. The $108 million San Marcos Creek Project is expected to be completed in spring 2023. Once completed, it will prevent flooding in the area.

"When we do get a big rain, all the streets usually are closed down, so I'm excited to see how the project is going to eliminate that and hopefully help with the flooding issue," Avant said.

The project will also expand Discovery Street from a two-lane street to a four-lane street with a bike lane and pedestrian walkway. It will also preserve the creek habitat and add another park in the city.

Avant is looking forward to the walking trail. Wilson, however, doesn't think commuters will stop using Applewilde Drive as a shortcut once the creek project is completed.

"Everyone's looking for a shortcut," he said. "San Diego's traffic is so bad, and now they've taught the majority of these people the shortcut way through the neighborhood."

Residents can check on the progress of the San Marcos Creek Project at the city's website.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.