News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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$3.09 million headed for Santa Fe Drive safety project in Encinitas

State Sen. Blakespear works to get money through California budget
California+state+Sen.+Catherine+Blakespear+%28center%29+and+Encinitas+Mayor+Tony+Kranz+%28immediate+left%29+stand+with+members+of+the+Encinitas+City+Council%2C+San+Dieguito+High+School+Academy+and+family+of+Brodee+Braxton+Champlain-Kingman+on+Sept.+21+as+they+mark+the+granting+of+%243.09+million+in+state+funds+for+the+Santa+Fe+Drive+Corridor+Improvements+Project.+%28Encinitas+city+photo%29
California state Sen. Catherine Blakespear (center) and Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz (immediate left) stand with members of the Encinitas City Council, San Dieguito High School Academy and family of Brodee Braxton Champlain-Kingman on Sept. 21 as they mark the granting of $3.09 million in state funds for the Santa Fe Drive Corridor Improvements Project. (Encinitas city photo)

Spurred by the death of an Encinitas teenager over the summer, state Sen. Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas) has been able to secure $3.09 million in funds for the Santa Fe Drive Corridor Improvements Project, the city announced Thursday, Sept. 21.

Blakespear, a former Encinitas councilwoman and mayor, handed a check to members of the City Council and other officials in a Thursday ceremony.

“The recent death of Brodee Champlain-Kingman, a talented, popular 15-year-old student at San Dieguito Academy who was riding his e-bike, illustrates just how dangerous roads can be for cyclists,” Blakespear said in a city news release. “I am grateful I was able to get funding to pay for major improvements along Santa Fe Drive that will benefit everyone.”

The $3.09 million was added to California’s state budget for 2023-24.

The Santa Fe Drive project, expected to break ground this fall, is slated to add improvements such as buffered bike lanes, updated sidewalks, protected intersections and bus stop enhancements along the road, which has San Dieguito High School Academy on its route.

The project runs from Santa Fe Drive’s intersection with Evergreen Drive west to Gardena Road, according to a city fact sheet.

Brodee Braxton Champlain-Kingman died after sustaining injuries in an e-bike crash on June 22. Brodee was riding northbound in the 500 block of El Camino Real when he changed lanes and collided with a work van, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. He died a day later at the hospital.

A memorial for Brodee remained at the southwest corner of El Camino Real and Santa Fe Drive as of this week.

The incident led to a citywide campaign in Encinitas to support safe e-bike riding.

“The Santa Fe Drive Corridor Improvements Project is a critical mobility project that will support active transportation and make it safer for residents and students to walk or cycle through the area,” Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz said Thursday in the city’s news release. “This project helps get people out of cars by creating spaces where cyclists and pedestrians are comfortable and safer using the roads. The funding that Senator Blakespear has lined up allows the City to move this important project into the construction phase and bring about its completion sooner than anticipated.”

Thursday’s ceremony included Kranz, Deputy Mayor Joy Lyndes, San Dieguito High School Academy Principal Cara Dolnik and Clare Champlain, Brodee’s mother.

Champlain and Dolnik said the Santa Fe Drive project will add essential measures to keep pedestrians and drivers safe.

“Brodee Braxton Champlain-Kingman never made it to his destination of San Dieguito Academy on the evening of June 22nd,” Champlain said in the city’s news release. “While riding his e-bike and changing lanes he was fatally hit by a van that took his life way too soon. Wearing his helmet, knowing the rules of the road and signaling clearly on that tragic day was not enough to keep him safe.”

Dolnik thanked Blakespear’s efforts to attach the funding to the state’s budget.

“I would like to first express the (San Dieguito Union High School District) community’s sincere appreciation to Senator Blakespear and city officials for prioritizing the safety and well-being of the residents of Encinitas, including the students in our district, through the Santa Fe Drive project,” Dolnik said in the news release. “The ongoing traffic concerns and increase in e-bike accidents highlights the need for continued collaboration between our state, city and community partners.”

Champlain said the project will help spare other families the grief that she and hers have experienced since Brodee’s death.

“What happened to Brodee and the loss our family is suffering could have been prevented, and we should never allow this to happen again,” she said. “Brodee should be here, now, and he is not because we have failed him. We have to do better for Brodee and prioritize the safety of our bikers. I’m thankful to Senator Blakespear for prioritizing this bike safety project adjacent to Brodee’s high school.”