By Karen Brainard
It’s not a done deal yet, but the Ramona Community Planning Group unanimously voted Dec. 5 to delay two road projects so that their funding could be diverted to State Route 67/Highland Valley/Dye Road intersection improvements.
The idea was suggested by county staff after the planning group learned that Caltrans’ project report on the intersection improvements was “collecting dust” because no money was available to move forward. Caltrans has developed ideas that it believes will help improve traffic flow at that intersection.
Terry Rayback with San Diego County Department of Public Works said they are exploring the possibility of delaying the Ramona Street Extension for four years and the Dye Road Extension for one year so that the TransNet funding for those projects could be used for the intersection improvements with the understanding that down the road San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) reimburse the county. TransNet is the half-cent countywide sales tax that helps fund regional transportation projects.
Rayback said Caltrans and SANDAG would have to agree to the plan. Caltrans is involved because Route 67 is a state highway.
Improvements to that intersection are part of SANDAG’s Route 67 widening plan slated for 2030, according to county officials.
Several residents, all who oppose the Ramona Street Extension, supported the intersection funding proposal.
“It’s clear to see which item you’re going to get more bang for your buck,” said Joe Minervini.
RCPG member Donna Myers, who stepped down from her seat to comment, said the intersection serves 100 percent of the population as opposed to Ramona Street, which would serve a much smaller population.
“Let’s transfer these funds and help our citizens out,” she said before recusing herself from the vote.
The improvements to the intersection are estimated to cost $10.5 million. Rayback said there are $950,000 of transportation impact fees that could be used.
Planner Dennis Sprong made the motion to approve the plan, adding that delays to the Ramona Street and Dye Road projects be minimalized if funding becomes available before the designated timeframes. Kevin Wallace seconded the motion.
RCPG Chair Jim Piva said after the meeting that the planning group is still looking for a shared financial commitment among the county, SANDAG, and Caltrans to fund the intersection. If that happened, the two road projects may not have to be delayed, he said.