Ramona Community Planning Group needs to take the southern bypass off the top 10 road improvement list, Joe Minervini told those attending the Save Ramona’s Environment and Businesses meeting in Ramona Town Hall.
“Let’s take it off the books,” he said.
Almost a dozen people showed up for the meeting on April 11. Minervini, who believes the proposed bypass would hurt downtown businesses, said he had hoped more business owners would attend but understood it was a Sunday afternoon and they must tend to their cash registers.
Minervini’s daughter, Suzie Minervini, said that many of the businesses in Ramona are small mom and pop shops and the owners probably couldn’t get away on a Sunday afternoon. She said she talked to businesses on Main Street and most owners were not aware of the southern bypass.
“They’re really upset about it. They don’t want to lose business,” she said. “I don’t want Main Street to die.”
Joe Minervini said he’s been told that the southern bypass idea was initiated in the 1970s and has changed over the years. Minervini provided maps of the bypass and other road projects that he obtained through the county’s Department of Public Works. The map of the bypass, he said, was probably the best available at this time. He added that most people at the county level do not know the route of the bypass.
The maps Minervini provided show the bypass at the south end of town beginning at state Route 67 and Mussey Grade Road/ Dye Street. The bypass would follow Dye Street to Dye Road and through the Dye Road Extension project, would connect to a new road near the southern end of Keyes Road and lead up to state Route 78.
Maps of the proposed Dye Road Extension project, phases 1 and 2, show a new road extending Dye Road near the intersection of Ramona Street up to Warnock Drive past San Vicente Road to Keyes Road. The county’s Transportation Impact Fee (TIF) is listed as one source of funding for the projects.
The Ramona Community Plan notes that the principal circulation problem in Ramona is the lack of alternatives to Main Street, “which is the only route for through traffic headed to Julian and for most commercial traffic.” It states that a strategy to solve the congestion problem is the south bypass, but also says that with the south bypass there will probably still be congestion on the two-lane portion of Main Street.
“They think there’s too much congestion on Main Street,” Minervini said. Any small town during rush hour will have congestion, he noted.
Minervini admitted that one reason he is against the project is because it will go through part of his backyard. He said the county dedicated 35 feet of his property for the bypass and a neighbor will lose 100 feet of property for the bypass.
Many residents, Minervini said, think the southern bypass will never happen.
“It’s going to happen,” he said, adding “probably not in 10 years, but maybe 20 years.”
According to Minervini, the Dye Road Extension, Phase 1, is going through the environmental impact study process and the EIR (environmental impact report) should be ready for public comments just before summer. After public comments, he said, the plan will go before the San Diego County Planning Commission and then the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Minervini said he spoke before the planning commission recently in opposition to the southern bypass and during the past year has regularly addressed the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) about the bypass, asking members to take if off the top ten list. He urged others to do the same.
Ken Brennecke, who has also spoken in opposition to road projects at the RCPG meetings, said he thinks residents are being fed misinformation. Brennecke noted that, even if RCPG members are not listening to his comments during his allotted three minutes for public speaking at the meeting, his comments at least go on public record.
Minervini said he would like to see the south bypass taken off the list and in exchange see the intersection of Route 67 and Highland Valley/Dye Road added. That intersection has recently been surveyed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
At the last RCPG meeting, member Jim Piva announced that he and the other members of the Highway 67 Subcommittee will be meeting with Caltrans to discuss changing the timing of the signals at that intersection as a possible short-term solution to help ease congestion.
Brennecke and Donna Myers brought up the Ramona Street extension, another project on the top 10 list that they oppose as it affects them and has gone through several re-design phases.
“We kept pointing out the fact the county violated their own engineering standards,” Brennecke said. “There is no good way to design this road.”
Minervini acknowledged that the RCPG does make some good decisions with zoning and land use, and there are some good road projects, like widening San Vicente Road. But, he added, the RCPG is making a big mistake with the southern bypass.
He noted that the RCPG will be hosting a transportation summit, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., June 9, at Olive Peirce Middle School.
“This is our opportunity to really voice our opinions,” Minervini said. “Don’t forget the traffic summit. We really should be there as a group.”