San Vicente Road update prompts new concerns

By Karen Brainard

Concerns from Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) members about turn lanes and road width along San Vicente Road is leading county staff to take another look at its design to improve the artery that leads to San Diego Country Estates.

County staff presented this diagram to the planning group, showing the widths of the different lanes and paths designed for the San Vicente Road Improvement Project.

At the April 4 RCPG meeting, county staff from the Department of Public Works (DPW) presented an update on the San Vicente Road Improvement Project that is slated for construction to begin this fall. A 2.25-mile segment of the roadway from Warnock Drive to 1,000 feet east of Wildcat Canyon Road will be realigned to improve sight distance and make the road safer.

“There are approximately 16 curves,” Steve Ron, project manager with DPW told the planning group. “At the end of the project we’ll have six curves.”

The roadway has two 12-foot travel lanes and 24 feet of pavement and has been the scene of serious accidents in which many people, including teenagers and young adults, have died or been severely injured.

The new design plans call for two 13-foot vehicle travel lanes, a 5-foot bike lane and a 10-foot parkway on the north or east side of the road, and a 5-foot bike lane and 10-foot DG (decomposed granite) pathway on the south or west side for equestrians and pedestrians. According to Ron, a parkway differs from a pathway

Ramona Community Planning Group member Carl Hickman emphasizes the need for more width between the two travel lanes on San Vicente Road to help prevent head-on collisions. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

in that it is a graded area where people can walk but is not as weatherproof.

An asphalt berm and landscape barrier will separate the bike lane from the pathway which will be safer than guard rails or fences, Ron said. He added that the county has been working with the equestrian community on the plans.

Terry Rayback, program manager of DPW’s Land Use Environmental Group and Capital Improvement Project Development, said TransNet funding (half cent sales tax) that will go toward the project requires separate bike and equestrian lanes. TransNet will fund about $28 million of the $40 million project, Ron told the Sentinel.

Three dedicated turn lanes have been designed on San Vicente Road for intersections with Warnock Drive, Deviney Lane, and Wildcat Canyon Road, said Rayback, prompting some planners to question the logic.

RCPG members Torry Brean, Eb Hogervorst, and Dennis Sprong said Gem Lane sees more traffic in and out than Deviney Lane which leads into the Barnett Ranch Preserve.

“There’s 10 times more traffic going out of Gem Lane than the park,” said Hogervorst.

Sprong asked how the county found a need for a turn lane at Deviney Lane and not Gem Lane.

A county staff member said the state Fish and Wildlife agency and the county Parks and Recreation Department felt a turn lane was needed at Barnett Ranch for safety reasons as drivers turn in and out with horse trailers. Sprong, however, responded that there are agricultural lots all along San Vicente Road where owners have horse trailers.

Planner Carl Hickman weighed in with his comments and concerns, calling the project a “brand new roadway.”

Terry Rayback, program manager of the county Department of Public Works Land Use Environmental Group, updates the Ramona Community Planning Group and residents on the San Vicente Road Improvement Project. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

While Hickman liked a dedicated right turn lane onto Wildcat Canyon Road, he said San Vicente should have two sets of double yellow centerlines to help prevent head-on collisions. Hickman said there are many “near-misses” on San Vicente Road.

“There should be a way to accommodate a double- yellow,” he said. “In my opinion the speeds are going to go up.”

Rayback said they had tried to keep the road on the narrow side to accommodate those who wanted it to blend with the rural community character.

“I see a project that doesn’t meet your own road standards,” Hickman said.

Noting that he drives the route every day, Hickman asked for another two feet for additional double- yellow or rumble strips, questioning whether two 10-foot pathways were needed on each side.

“We’ll take one more look at it,” Rayback responded, adding that there have been a lot of trade-offs. “We’re trying to walk a fine line.”

To accommodate San Diego Country Estates traffic, Rayback said, “There will be no construction during two peak commuter hours.” He said construction will most likely take place from 9 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. During construction, Rayback said, they will try to maintain two lanes of traffic most of the time, but when flaggers must be out to control traffic, the delay time will not be more than 15 minutes.

Because San Vicente Road is the main route to San Diego Country Estates, Rayback said they will make sure that those bidding on the job will understand that such issues as emergency evacuation could arise. Turnout areas will be available during construction in case a car stalls or for an emergency vehicle to make a U-turn, he said.

DPW is working with a public relations firm to keep residents updated on the road construction by signing people up for email blasts, posting news on Facebook and Twitter, and offering a Hotline number, 1-877-291-6565.

The county estimates that 150 oak trees on 5.85 acres along San Vicente Road will be removed. The county is acquiring 14.5 acres of oak habitat to mitigate the loss, however Rayback said only some of that acreage will be in Ramona. He added that they are trying to buy more land for Barnett Ranch and possibly plant trees there.

“We’re very aware of the community’s interest in the loss of trees,” said Rayback.

County staff is still acquiring right of way parcels, said Rayback, and plans to get approval from the Board of Supervisors this summer to authorize staff to advertise and award a construction contract. The project is expected to take 18 months and be completed in spring 2015.

About $10 million of the $40 million total cost is relocation of utilities. Ramona Municipal Water District will have to pay close to $5 million to move a water main. In addition to TransNet, the project will be funding by county transportation impact fees.

Related posts:

  1. Ramona planners expect San Vicente Road update at April 4 meeting
  2. SDG&E to start moving poles along San Vicente Road on Monday
  3. Regional agency OKs money for four road projects
  4. County adjusts funding for Dye Road, Ramona Street, and San Vicente Road
  5. County updates planning group on San Vicente Road project

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Apr 9 2013. Filed under Featured Story, Government, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “San Vicente Road update prompts new concerns”

  1. Helen Cawyer

    It is certainly time for expansion of San Vicente Road, especially the double yellow lines and the turnout lanes for Deviny and Gem Lanes. I was in an accident myself a few years ago attempting to turn into Gem Lane. The fact that it is also a double driveway with a large ditch on one side makes it pretty tricky although I was rear ended before the actual turn because I had to slow down so much in order to make it.

    The loss of trees is really a shame though. I wonder if it would be possible to divide the road so some of the trees could be in a meridian, just like the Country Estates roads already are. The two roads should really match anyway, and I don't think people would go much faster than they already are plus there would be a slow lane for those who want to travel more safely. Really hope they continue on with this important fix.

  2. Herve' Auch-Roy

    Helen, as much as I respect your point of view, please also consider mine.
    Having been a road warrior for now 37 years, I added up all the vehicles and miles that I put on them: motorcycles, sedans, SUV, pick-up trucks and light trucks, all in the USA, in western and eastern Europe, all together amount to a little more than 2 million miles. And while adding up miles, I have never seen any road kill or injure any one. Only stupid and irresponsible drivers unable to adapt their behavior to the road conditions.
    I strongly doubt that the widening of the San Vicente Road will resolve anything, and I even believe that it will only make matter worst. However, I will be more than grateful to see the number of accidents, injuries and death be reduced, but again, I doubt it will be the case.
    The problem is not the road. The problem is the drivers. Give them a wider road, and they'll only drive faster, and the next time that you will be rear ended, at best you will end up in a wheelchair, and at worst, you will die.
    Widening that road will increase the speed difference between the people who do already respect the 50 MPH limit and the others who will then exceed 80 MPH, and then more. The crashes will only be more violent and more deadly.
    Very few drivers respect the speed 25MPH and 45MPH limits in the Estates, and I keep asking our Sheriff to come over and enforce the law, to no avail.
    The only solution that I see is to add speed bumps that will force everyone to slow down and avoid destroying their cars. And for those who will destroy their car, then good riddance; it'll be less stupid people on the roads and it'll save lives.
    I also became a strong opponent to this San Vicente Road project when I learned that it will cost over $40 millions of tax payers money (our money) while our schools are being denied the basic repairs and quality teachers that our kids deserve for the future of our community.
    But I hope to be wrong, and I'll be happy if this project results in less drama.

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