City unveils permanent 'Slow Streets' infrastructure on Gaslamp's Fifth Avenue
On Tuesday, San Diego unveiled bollards on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, replacing temporary gates and maintaining the thoroughfare as a "slow street."
Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilman Stephen Whitburn, who represents the Gaslamp in District 3, and downtown business leaders commemorated the completion of the retractable bollards, placed at intersections along Fifth Avenue to block vehicle traffic and create small pedestrian-centered plazas.
"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," Gloria said.
"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."
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Fifth Avenue running north-south has largely been shuttered by plastic traffic barricades to through traffic during business hours to provide more sidewalk and street seating for restaurants and businesses in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Under the plans, each block of Fifth Avenue, from Broadway on the north to K Street on the south, will be closed daily to vehicle traffic between noon and 2 a.m. Morning commuters, trash collection and deliveries will still be able to access the road and the closures are intended to not impact cross- street traffic on east and west streets connecting to Fifth Avenue.
"The Fifth Avenue Promenade will promote a bustling pedestrian atmosphere that is safe and accessible," Whitburn said. "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 steel bollards will be removed daily by the Gaslamp Quarter Association and stored nearby when the street is open to vehicles.
According to the City, by the end of the year, it expects to have completed a study on more proposed projects along Fifth Avenue. Earlier this year, San Diego received a Safe Streets for All federal grant to develop a Slow Streets program.