San Diego city officials, business leaders unveil progress on Fifth Avenue ‘slow street’ plan

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria File photo

Newly installed bollards help create a pedestrian promenade to
promote accessibility, economic development in Gaslamp Quarter

SAN DIEGO – Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, and downtown business leaders have unveiled a new Slow Street on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown. City of San Diego Transportation Department crews completed construction of the infrastructure necessary to place bollards at intersections along Fifth Avenue to block vehicle traffic and create small pedestrian-centered plazas. The bollards will replace temporary gates that were previously being used.

“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,” Mayor Todd 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.”

Mayor Gloria and Councilmember Whitburn unveiled the bollards that will be used to close the street in a ceremony on Tuesday, May 16. 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, creating safe and walkable promenades. The closures would take place between 12 p.m. and 2 a.m. and not impact cross-street traffic on east and west streets connecting to Fifth Avenue.

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.

Repurposing Fifth Avenue during certain days and hours of the week as a Slow Street will foster a more accessible, pedestrian-friendly environment, provide additional seating areas for visitors and customers of the surrounding businesses, and encourage alternative modes of transportation.

“The Fifth Avenue Promenade will promote a bustling pedestrian atmosphere that is safe and accessible,” said Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who represents District 3. “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 installation of these bollards on Fifth Avenue is the first step in a larger vision for the Gaslamp Quarter,” said Michael Trimble, executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association. “The Gaslamp Promenade has been years in the making, and I’m proud to share this with everyone who visits the neighborhood.”

“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,” said Betsy Brennan, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. “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.”

By the end of 2023, the city expects to have completed a study to evaluate the feasibility of more proposed improvements along Fifth Avenue. Earlier this year the city received a Safe Streets for All federal grant to develop a Slow Streets program and evaluate criteria for more applications around San Diego.

The Slow Streets Program aligns with the city’s Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero goals while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all.

(City of San Diego Release)

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