By Karen Brainard
When it comes to road projects in Ramona, many residents have opinions and different priorities.
Recent news that two road projects could possibly be delayed to fund improvements for the State Route 67 and Highland Valley/Dye Road intersection was brought up at the Ramona Community Revitalization Steering Committee meeting hosted by County Supervisor Dianne Jacob on Nov. 20.
Because the intersection is believed to contribute to traffic back-ups, Caltrans has developed a project report with ways to improve traffic flow. Caltrans is responsible for SR-67, a state highway, while Highland Valley and Dye Roads are county roads.
At last month’s Ramona Community Planning Group meeting, Chair Jim Piva said Caltrans reported the improvements cannot move forward because there is no funding. County staff suggested the intersection project could be funded if Ramona Street Extension could be delayed for four years and the Dye Road Extension for one year. Piva said he would bring it up for a vote on the Dec. 5 planning group meeting.
Realtor Carol Fowler, who serves as chair of the Revitalization Committee’s Economic Development Subcommittee, questioned the logic of delaying other road projects for that intersection.
“It seems like they keep fixing that intersection in hopes of helping the back-up, but it never does,” she said.
Fowler suggested the problem might not be the intersection but the highway, which decreases from four to two lanes west of town.
“That’s a decision for the community,” responded Jacob.
The community must decide if the intersection is a higher priority, said Jacob.
Fowler said she doesn’t want to see money put into the intersection and then have the same traffic problems while other projects are delayed.
“The money will not be wasted if the community decides to move forward with this intersection project...and put off some of the others,” said Jacob, adding that widening Route 67 from Lakeside to Dye Road most likely won’t happen until 2030. “This has been targeted as a priority. It had been touted as a way to help the flow of traffic through town, so I think you need to look at it and see,”
Jim Cooper, a planning group member and chair of the Revitalization’s Parks and Recreation Subcommittee, commented that Caltrans is looking at major reconstruction to help improve the flow at that intersection.
Among features proposed in the report are widening Highland Valley Road at the intersection to incorporate two eastbound left turn lanes and widening Dye Road to include two westbound left turn lanes. The estimated cost of the project is $10.5 million.
Also at the meeting, Mike Aguilar, project manager with the San Diego County Department of Public Works, presented the status for county road projects in Ramona. He noted that the schedule for the 13th Street bridge over Santa Maria Creek has been delayed due to issues with Caltrans on the road and bridge design. Although the project will be federally funded and 13th Street is a county road, Aguilar said the state transportation agency is administering the funds and so it has to agree to the project components.
Below is the schedule of projected road completion dates. The Dye Road and Ramona Street schedules could change, depending on the planning group’s Dec. 5 vote.
Dye Road Extension
Design: 3rd quarter 2013
Right-of-way: 4th quarter 2015
Construction: 2nd quarter 2018
Ramona Street Extension
Design: 1st quarter 2014
Right-of-Way: 4th quarter 2014
Construction: 3rd quarter 2017
San Vicente Road
Right-of-Way: to be determined
Construction: Spring 2015
13th Street/Maple Street Bridge
Design: 3rd quarter 2016
Right-of-way: 2nd quarter 2017
Construction: 3rd quarter 2019.