Caltrans seeks public opinions on SR-67 medians

Johan Pulgarin, Caltrans project engineer, talks about the impact a median barrier would have to those who have driveways along the highway. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Johan Pulgarin, Caltrans project engineer, talks about the impact a median barrier would have to those who have driveways along the highway. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

Residents have until Sept. 23 to weigh in on several potential safety improvements Caltrans is considering for State Route 67.

The state transportation agency held a public scoping meeting on its SR-67 Median Barrier Feasibility Project Aug. 22 at Olive Peirce Middle School with display boards showing the options being considered on the 12-mile stretch between Willow Road in Lakeside and Shady Oaks Drive in Ramona. Those options are a median concrete barrier, a high tension cable barrier, a metal barrier, a median buffer, and a “no-build.”

With a number of deadly accidents and head-on collisions over the years on Route 67, Caltrans has implemented such measures as widening the shoulders and installing rumble strips and dynamic speed survey signs. After a three-vehicle accident near Mt. Woodson in May 2012 that claimed the lives of four people, however, many residents called for more safety improvements.

One suggestion that Caltrans is looking at is a concrete median barrier, which would differ from K-rails that have been discussed in the past, as K-rails are temporary and the concrete barrier would be permanent, explained Caltrans Project Engineer Johan Pulgarin.

Another type of barrier could be metal that would offer space underneath to allow for drainage. A third type is a tension cable barrier with the cable attached to short poles down the center of the roadway. A benefit to this one is that the poles could be pulled out to allow emergency vehicles to cross the road, said Pulgarin.

Alternative 1 would be to place one of the median types down the center with a five-foot shoulder on each side, but this would eliminate a lane where there are three lanes or four lanes, said Pulgarin.

“The area we have two (lanes) we can’t do anything with,” said Pulgarin.

Alternative 2 would allow all lanes to stay but the median would be installed along the center line with only a

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Caltrans graphic shows what a median buffer zone would look like. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

two-foot shoulder on each side, and then could be installed where only two lanes exist, according to Caltrans.

The median barriers would impact those who have driveways along SR-67 or live off cross streets. Instead of cutting across the highway to make a left turn, they would have to turn right and drive out of their way until they could turn the opposite way. That could cause increased traffic and more travel time, said Pulgarin.

That would also make it more difficult for emergency responders and evacuations, officials note. Pulgarin said others note that metal or concrete barriers would impede wildlife crossing the highway.

Where there are large groups of homes, Caltrans would probably create an opening in the median for traffic to cross, the engineer said.

Instead of a barrier median, Alternative 3 proposes a 12-foot buffer zone, but that would also call for a lane to be removed where there are three or four lanes, said Pulgarin. Alternative 4 is the “no-build” in which nothing would change along the highway stretch.

Pulgarin said regardless of which alternative is chosen, the pros and cons need to be documented.

“If no building happens to be the best, then that’s what we’ll go with,” he said.

Caltrans will prepare an environmental impact report/environmental assessment to analyze the potential effects that the proposed alternatives may have on the environment. Caltrans anticipates a presentation to the community in spring 2014 and will give another opportunity for comments.

Project Manager Richard Estrada said that if one of the median alternatives is chosen, construction would begin the end of 2016 or early 2017. The most expensive option — the metal barrier — is estimated to cost $40 million with funds coming from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP), said Estrada.

Comments about the potential improvements can be emailed to ct.public.information.d11@dot.ca.gov or mailed to the Caltrans District Office at 4050 Taylor St., MS-121, San Diego, CA 92110.

   
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