SANDAG gets earful about Route 67
California Department of Transportation along with a handful of Ramona residents informed the San Diego Association of Governments’ Transportation Committee about recent efforts undertaken to improve safety along State Route 67.
The June 19 Transportation Committee meeting heard Caltrans District 11 Director Pedro Orso Delgado give an overview of the 24-mile highway and address the “three E’s,” or education, enforcement and engineering.
“I think it was well-received,” said Paul Tarr, one of the Ramona residents who spoke to the SANDAG committee. “I think we’ve moved ourselves up quite a bit.”
SANDAG’s responsibility includes capacity improvements to state highways, but Caltrans has safety responsibility and can modify state routes for safety or other operational improvements. In addition to highway construction and maintenance, the California Department of Transportation also includes the California Highway Patrol.
In 2007 the CHP initiated a public awareness campaign called “Take Care Getting There,” which reminds motorists of the non-freeway 55 mph speed limit. Unsafe speed accounts for between one-third and one-half of the collisions along Highway 67, which dropped to 260 in 2008 after exceeding 300 in each of the previous five years. The 2008 collisions included five fatalities, bringing the six-year total to 37, not including three fatal collisions so far in 2009.
Other major causes of accidents include unsafe turns, driving under the influence and failure to maintain a vehicle safely within the lane.
The CHP issued an average of 10.8 citations per day in 2008 and has issued a daily average of 19.2 citations so far this year.
In March 2009, a state Office of Traffic Safety grant allowed for additional patrol officers along Highway 67 as well as for educational efforts.
Route 67 had a 2007 average daily traffic (ADT) volume of 29,500 vehicles north of Mapleview Street at Milepost 5.5 and north of Highland Valley Road at Milepost 21.4. In 1971, Milepost 5.5 had an ADT of 6,500 vehicles while Milepost 21.4 had an ADT of 4,900 vehicles.
“Ramona has been growing from a population of about 5,000 in the 1960s to today about 40,000,” Orso Delgado said.
Recent engineering projects include a 2002 modification of the intersection of Route 67 and Archie Moore Road, one of the areas with the highest collision rates. The work, which included pavement re-striping, resulted in a 63 percent decrease in collisions at that intersection. Rumble strips have also been installed along center medians and shoulders, and December 2008 actions included median buffer areas and speed feedback signs.
Specific near-term engineering improvements are difficult to assess.
“The corridor has about 139 roadway or driveway access points that serve close to 2,400 residents. We haven’t seen an increase or a high concentration of accidents in any location,” Orso Delgado said. “That makes it a little bit harder for us.”
When the highway is widened to four lanes—which is part of SANDAG’s discretionary role—the median would take one of three forms. One possibility is a turn lane, another scenario is a raised concrete barrier, and the other option is a graded median approximately 30 feet wide without a barrier.
The concrete barrier option is not favored by Orso Delgado.
“We’re going to be blocking a lot of the driveways,” he said.
That would force residents and other users of those driveways to turn right onto Highway 67 and turn around rather than making a left turn when exiting, and they would need to turn around and then turn right when entering if a left turn is not possible.
“Some folks may have to go eight miles out of direction to be able to access those driveways,” Orso Delgado said.
Concrete barriers would also prevent CHP, fire, and emergency medical vehicles from turning. Other drawbacks include increased congestion, the risk of more rear-end collisions, drainage impediments, and impaired wildlife crossings.
The Highway 67 widening project would widen the road from two lanes to four lanes between Mapleview Street in Lakeside and Dye Road in Ramona. In 2007, when SANDAG approved its most recent Regional Transportation Plan, the project had an estimated cost of $400 million. Highway 67 widening is included in the TransNet program funded by the half-cent sales tax increase and is in the reasonably expected revenue scenario of SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan, although not in the revenue-constrained plan of the RTP. The RTP covers highway, transit and other transportation items through the year 2030 and is next scheduled to be updated in 2011.
A Project Initiation Document (PID) is being circulated internally within Caltrans.
“It should be signed within the next two or three weeks,” Orso Delgado said.
That PID focuses on long-term capacity rather than short-term safety.
“That’s for the ultimate project,” Orso Delgado said.
“We don’t want to minimize the importance of what Highway 67 means to Ramona,” said Bob Hailey, another Ramona resident who spoke. “There needs to be something done.”
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who also spoke at the SANDAG committee meeting, will have a meeting in her El Cajon office on July 16 to discuss solutions.
“We wanted Supervisor Jacob to take the lead in trying to get a group of people from the community to work with us,” Orso Delgado said.
- Caltrans unveils speed signs along Route 67
- Caltrans reviews map of Highway 67 widening
- Southbound Route 163 at Interstate 15 closed tonight
- Caltrans to close Route 67 for interchange work tonight
- State commission OKs southern route for Powerlink
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