Highland Avenue Safety Enhancements Project

New Improvements for a Historic Community

Water quality, traffic and accessibility all posed safety risks to both pedestrians and drivers on Highland Avenue between Division Street and East 8th Street in National City. With engineering and design help from Harris, the City was able to enhance safety while maintaining the historic identity and aesthetic of the community.

Harris first conducted a detailed topographic survey to prepare an Auto-CAD base map. This map, which included right-of-way, manholes, curbs, gutters, landscaping, driveways and underground utilities, formed the preliminary improvement plan designs.

Core Elements

The $1.4 million enhancements project, nominated for the 2015 Outstanding Civil Engineering Project Award, included:

  • Extensive coordination with San Diego Gas & Electric Co., Pacific Bell, Sweetwater Authority, National City Engineering Department and other utilities

  • A construction Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to address water quality

  • New pedestrian curb ramps and intersection upgrades for ADA compliance

  • Enhanced crosswalks with pedestrian refuge islands and high-intensity signing and striping

  • Traffic calming measures, such as a “road diet” converting four travel lanes to two with protected left turn lanes at intersections, raised islands midblock and replacement of parallel parking with angle parking on the east side of the street

To address poor lighting that raised safety concerns for National City residents, Harris conducted a photometric analysis of Highland Avenue, documenting the existing foot-candle levels and creating a computer model of existing and proposed light fixtures. With this data, Harris determined the exact number of lights needed and their locations—adding to the revitalized half mile.

Altogether, the enhancements have bolstered civic pride for residents of San Diego County’s second oldest city. The beautified, safer streetscape promotes pedestrian travel, while the slower pace promotes communication—attributes proven to decrease crime and improve quality of life.

Beyond the Blueprints

Construction brings disruptions. To help minimize the impact of the Highland Avenue work on local businesses, Harris and city representatives met personally with each local business owner in the affected area. The team adjusted construction phasing and scheduling to accommodate them as much as possible. While some impacts could not be avoided, listening and responding to the concerns of residents and businesses maintained good relations and ensured a well-received end result.


Meet the Team

Ehab Gerges, PE

Ehab Gerges, PE

Chief Business Development Officer / Program + Construction Management Division President


City of National City


National City, CA


Public Works


Civil Design