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.