By Karen Brainard
For many drivers in Ramona, road safety, better circulation, and ease of traffic are important. Staff from the county’s Department of Public Works provided updates on road projects in the community at Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s Ramona Revitalization Steering Committee meeting.
Terry Rayback, DPW program manager of capital improvement project (CIP) development, and Mike Aguilar, project manager of engineering services, presented the CIP road improvement status report for the Ramona Street Extension, San Vicente Road, Dye Road Extension, and 13th Street/Maple Street bridge. Also discussed were the State Route 67 and Highland Valley/Dye Road intersection and the proposed emergency evacuation route.
San Vicente Road
The design for realigning and widening San Vicente Road from Warnock Drive to 1,000 feet east of Wildcat Canyon Road is expected to be finished by spring 2013. The project will include a bike lane and a pathway. Rayback said they are considering options to visually separate the pathway from the road to accommodate equestrians. Although a split rail fence had been considered, the cross rails have proven to be a danger if an accident occurs, he said.
As an option, resident Kathy DaSilva presented photos she took in San Marcos of a split rail fence with rope used instead of wood cross rail.
Aguilar said they are negotiating with property owners on right-of-way. Construction is estimated to be completed by summer 2015. Design and construction will be funded by transportation impact fees (TIF) and the TransNet half-cent sales tax.
Dye Road Extension
This project would extend Dye Road from Ramona Street to San Vicente Road and is considered phase one of the future South Bypass—a project that is intended to relieve traffic on Main Street by giving drivers the option to bypass the downtown area.
Aguilar said that, because the Dye Road Extension had been on hold until the General Plan Update was approved, engineering staff must bring the design up to date with the new standards. Design is anticipated to be completed by fall 2013, right-of-way by winter 2015, and construction by fall 2017. Design and construction is to be funded by TIF and TransNet.
Ramona Street Extension
Rayback said the design of the Ramona Street Extension will most likely be completed in early 2013. The project would extend Ramona Street from Boundary Avenue to Warnock Drive. Residents who live along the dirt road that exists there now vehemently oppose the project. Rayback said once design is complete, staff will meet with those residents and give them 30 days to digest the design before presenting it to the Ramona Community Planning Group.
When resident Jim Cooper asked what problem the road extension solves, Jacob replied that the board of supervisors approve circulation elements based on densities and developments. Rayback likened the road network mobility element to a fishing net.
“It’s more effective if it’s whole and doesn’t have missing pieces and that’s the same basic very simple explanation of what a road network does,” said Rayback. “The more connected, the more complete it is, the better people are able to find their way around… navigate where they want to go efficiently.”
Right-of-way for the Ramona Street Extension is expected to be finished by summer 2015 and construction by summer 2017. TIF and TransNet will fund design and construction.
13th Street Bridge
This project would construct a bridge over the Santa Maria Creek bed on 13th Street near its intersection with Walnut Street to give better access from the north to Ramona Library and the downtown area. The dirt portion of the road would also be paved.
Aguilar said design is under way, and studies are being conducted on right-of-way. Design is estimated to be completed in fall 2014, right-of-way by summer 2015, and construction by summer 2017. A federal Highway Bridge Program grant will fund the construction.
Route 67 and Highland Valley/Dye Road
Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva noted that Jacob has been working with the planning group and officials from Caltrans and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), to obtain funding to improve traffic flow at the intersection of Route 67 and Highland Valley/Dye Road. Caltrans is working on a project report for the intersection.
Emergency Evacuation Route
Jacob applauded the emergency evacuation route, proposed as an alternative route on the north side of Ramona to lead residents west out of town during an emergency.
“This is a really big deal for Ramona,” said Jacob. Noting many of those involved in the process, Jacob said, “A lot of agencies came together. It didn’t just happen overnight.”
Piva reported that an open house will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, so residents can see what the route looks like. Attendees will meet on Montecito Way, just north of El Paso Street, at the beginning of the route.
Lt. James Bovet of the sheriff’s Ramona substation called the route a good alternative to take traffic off Route 67 in the event of an emergency and said law enforcement would direct drivers.
Bovet, who assumed the lieutenant job at the station in September following the retirement of Lt. Julie Sutton, offered to chair the Revitalization Committee’s public safety and law enforcement subcommittee.