For the first time since 1999, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted updates to the county’s public road standards.
“It seems to me this is a good balance,” Supervisor Ron Roberts said March 3.
Three county planning commission hearings and three subcommittee workshops led to refinements from the county staff’s original recommendations. The new standards allow for flexibility to balance community character, public safety and traffic flow.
The standards also specify the procedure for exemptions if circumstances warrant.
“The standards are guidelines,” said county Department of Public Works Traffic Engineer Bob Goralka.
The updates create 19 new road classifications and also cover pathway, engineering and driveway spacing standards.
The 17 additional circulation element categories are major road with intermittent turn lanes, boulevard with raised median, boulevard with intermittent turn lanes, community collector with raised median, community collector with continuous left turn lane, community collector with intermittent turn lanes, community collector with passing lane, community collector with no median, light collector with raised median, light collector with continuous left turn lane, light collector with intermittent turn lanes, light collector with passing lane, light collector with no median, light collector with reduced shoulder, minor collector with raised median, minor collector with intermittent turn lanes and minor collector with no median.
Those new classifications join the road classifications of expressway, prime arterial, major road, collector, town collector, light collector, rural collector, rural light collector, rural mountain and recreational parkway.
A rural residential collector would be designed to accommodate an average daily traffic volume of between 1,500 and 4,500 vehicles while a rural residential road would service an average volume of less than 1,500 vehicles. Both are intended to serve areas with lot sizes of at least two acres, and on-street parking would be prohibited. The standards for both are a total right-of-way width of 48 feet and pavement width of 28 feet.
All circulation element road classifications have a minimum lane width of 12 feet as do all non-circulation element residential road classifications other than hillside residential, which does not have a specific minimum width. The rural residential road and rural residential collector classifications also require 12-foot lanes.
The changes revise pathway standards to provide consistency with the county’s Community Trails Master Plan and update provisions to current engineering practices. The pathway updates eliminate the requirement that the pathway be contiguous with the curb, and additional right-of-way may be necessary where pathways exceed 10 feet in width.
Previous standards required driveways or private roads to be separated by at least 300 feet if entering a circulation element road and 200 feet if entering a non-circulation element road. The revision reduces the separation distance for driveways serving fewer than 20 dwelling units and entering a non-circulation element road to 100 feet.
All requests involving exemptions to adopted community right-of-way development guidelines will require a written recommendation from the local community planning or sponsor group while all requests for exemptions involving road widths, angle of departure, or vertical clearance will require a letter from the fire authority with jurisdiction.
Although the director of the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use can override those recommendations, any such decision will involve a letter containing reasons for the director’s determination, and a director’s decision may be appealed to the planning commission.
Improvements to existing public roads are often required as conditions of approval for development projects. The “Flexibility in County Road Design” guidelines encourage designers to consider all modes of transportation including pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian traffic as well as automobiles.