By Delle Willett
The newly created Masterplan for the E Street Greenway in the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village will provide a framework for cohesive improvement recommendations on form, amenities, materials and landscape.
The masterplan was a team effort led by Ross Duenas, civil engineer, and Patrick Toth, engineer in training of CR Associates, a civil engineering and transportation planning firm, and JT Barr, principal, and Lindsay DeCeault, project manager of Schmidt Design Group, a landscape architecture and planning firm. Both firms are based in San Diego.
The project was managed by the City of San Diego’s Urban Division and funded with a SANDAG Smart Growth Incentive Program grant written for the city by Civic San Diego. The proposed concepts for the greenway are a culmination of ideas presented to the community at public workshops.
The masterplan can be utilized by the city to facilitate the construction of the corridor on a block-by-block basis as development and funding opportunities arise.
Said Brian Schoenfisch, the new Urban Division Deputy Director, “Greenways are an essential component of the Downtown Community Plan, helping the City achieve its climate goals by encouraging more people to get out of their cars and explore the City on foot and bicycle. Implementation of a network of downtown greenways will transform underutilized areas of the public right-of-way into places to build community, encourage healthier lifestyles, support our local economy, and fill our downtown with life.”
The E Street Greenway is located between Horton Plaza and Interstate 5, starting on 4th Ave. and ending on 16th St. It is divided into two segments: The East Village District and the Gaslamp District. Each district’s unique flavor will be honored through streetscape and urban design.
One of six designated Green Streets in the Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan, the greenway intersects with the 8th Ave. Greenway, the 14th St. Greenway and two-way cycle tracks along 6th Ave. and Park Blvd. Together, these will establish balanced modes of transportation for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles.
The western two blocks of E St. between 4th Ave. and 6th Ave. celebrate the history of the Gaslamp Quarter while providing an expanded hardscape to accommodate nightlife crowds.
The remaining nine blocks along E St., between 6th Ave. and 16th St., alternate between social spaces and park spaces as the Greenway traverses East Village.
Each block will include outdoor gathering and dining responding to the evolving nature of urban redevelopment and the proposed adjacent commercial uses.
While all 11 blocks will be unified by the plant palette, furnishings and interpretive signage, each block will have unique elements that reflect the history and character of the block and the neighborhood.
Plants play an essential role in the overall experience of the greenway. A proposed double row of street trees will provide shade, help improve air quality, reduce the heat-island effect, and increase the aesthetic experience. The shrub and groundcover palette includes drought-tolerant species having a range of scales, textures, and flowers. In addition, planted stormwater filtration basins will be incorporated to help filter stormwater run-off.
Furnishings will be consistent throughout the Greenway, including benches, moveable seating, urban rockers, bike racks, bike repair stations, play components, trash receptacles, raised planters and signage.
Artwork will be incorporated throughout, including permanent and temporary public art installations as funding becomes available.
Pedestrian experience and safety are high on the plan’s priority list. Interpretative signage will be provided throughout the Greenway and may include wayfinding—a means of informing pedestrians the location of their points of interest in the vicinity, such as parks and recreation facilities.
The pedestrian experience will also be enhanced by removing on-street parking on the north side of the street, traffic-calming measures, programmed amenities and enhanced plantings.
The design of street crossings will provide the maximum amount of security for the pedestrian. Natural landscape areas will serve as a buffer between the street and sidewalk and bulb-outs at the intersections, increasing pedestrian safety.
The three eastbound travel lanes along the Greenway segment of E St. will be modified to a single lane in each direction to be consistent with the alignment east of 13th St.
This Greenway increases the space for seating, play, discovery, dog runs and landscape while emphasizing adult and children’s play. Secondary garden trails and interactive sculptural elements will also be found along the corridor.
Explained landscape architect JT Barr, the concept of play is integral to the overall Greenway experience, offering robust play opportunities that reflect the diversity of the city’s residents and visitors. They create a continuum of play, ranging in type, activity level, scale, function and aesthetic. This rhythmic composition encourages users to navigate the entirety of the Greenway and discover all that it has to offer.
To see a completed block, click here bit.ly/3zzuGxT.
— Delle Willett has been a marketing and public relations professional for over 30 years, advising clients including the San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and others with an emphasis on conservation of the environment. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.