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Caltrans Eyes Summer Report on Dye Road Intersection Improvements

The agency will estimate the cost to reduce congestion and will seek public input on any potential environmental concerns. The assessment work is expected to begin in July 2012.

Caltrans on Tuesday said it will begin work this summer on the initial report that lays the foundation for improvements for the Dye Road/Highway 67 intersection in Ramona.

Improvements were anticipated to begin in 2035, based on government priorities and available funding. However, now work is expected to begin in July to estimate the cost of improvements and assess any potential environmental concerns. This work is expected to take a year and will include public input, according to the deputy director of Traffic Operations for Caltrans District 11, Joe Hull.

Congestion at the intersection at the western entrance to town has been under discussion for about 25 years, according to the chairman of Ramona Community Planning Group, Jim Piva. Traffic backs up during commuter rush hours and it came to a standstill during the 2007 Witch Creek Fire evacuation.

Hull told Patch, "The primary reason we're doing this is that the traffic demand is 20 percent higher than the capacity of the intersection. This project is being done to improve mobility and to relieve congestion."

The 2007 fire evacuation problem led to work on improvements being given more of a priority, Piva said.

"The contacts we made in disaster preparedness and planning discussions after the Witch Creek Fire helped a great deal in moving this forward. The issue came up when we started discussing the proposed evacuation route through the sprayfields on Highland Valley Road owned by Ramona's water district."

Dye Road becomes Highland Valley Road on the northern side of Highway 67.

Over the past six months, the planning group's representatives have given presentations to County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and staff of Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to illustrate the congestion. Piva, along with group secretary Kristi Mansolf and another member who is a traffic engineer, Carl Hickman, gave the presentations.

Funding for this first stage in the process of improvements will come from Caltrans District 11 discretionary funds within the State Highway Operation and Protection Program, Hull said. It is expected to cost $500,000 to $800,000 to do the project report and the final engineering and design report.

The project report will be done in accordance with both state and federal environmental laws, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Most of the work will likely be done by Cal Trans staff but consultants may be retained to do certain portions, Hull said.

At this point, no money has been identified to do the construction of the road improvements, he said.

Piva was excited when he talked to Patch about the funding.

"This project has just taken a big leap forward," he said. "Joe Hull deserves a lot of credit for this."

Hull said obtaining the funding and committing to the work has been a team effort.

"There was a meeting in the past month in which we discussed who might take on certain parts of this project," he said.

Hull said he has been to Ramona to personally witness the congestion himself.

"We just felt, 'Let's just get this going.'"

Catryna White April 11, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Talk, talk, talk. That's all that ever takes place in this town. Nothing much constructive takes place. I've been in Ramona for over 22 years and the endless talking taking place way back then about Dye Road and Hwy 67 got old pretty fast. And, it's really old now. A lot of us are of like mind; we'll believe it when we see it.
Ramona Real Estate April 11, 2012 at 03:59 AM
It's called job preservation for the County officials. Keeps their dockets full, engages the citizenship, and qualifies their exisitance. It sells papers, but..... There is NO MONEY!
Paul Wilkinson April 11, 2012 at 01:57 PM
What a perfect spot for something like this: "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent research group, estimates that converting intersections with traffic lights to roundabouts reduces all crashes by 37% and crashes that involve an injury by 75%. At traffic lights the most common accidents are faster, right-angled collisions. These crashes are eliminated with roundabouts because vehicles travel more slowly and in the same direction. The most common accident is a sideswipe, generally no more than a cosmetic annoyance. "What locals like, though, is that it is on average far quicker to traverse a series of roundabouts than a similar number of stop lights. Indeed, one national study of ten intersections that could have been turned into roundabouts found that vehicle delays would have been reduced by 62-74% (nationally saving 325,000 hours of motorists’ time annually). Moreover, because fewer vehicles had to wait for traffic lights, 235,000 gallons of fuel could have been saved." More, and a picture, at http://www.economist.com/node/21538779.
Joe Minervini April 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Catryna, You are right-on with your assessment. At least they are now talking about it. Its also true, the State has no money; funding for the construction will probably come from somewhere other than the State. Collectively, our past Ramona Community Planning Groups (RCPG) and our present RCPG have finally sobered up and are pushing to improve this intersection thanks to being constantly reminded by "community members." Keep that in mind Ramona at the next election in Nov. Joe Minervini
Joe Cahak April 11, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Roundabouts work better on lower volume and lower speed roads. They don't work as well with heavily impacted roads with Highway speeds of 55MPH. They especially don't do well with heavy tractor trailers in the mix. The big vehicles don't do well in the roundabouts and cause incidents. Not to mention these highway roundabouts take up huge amounts of land. We already struggle to get the intersection redone with the current right of way CalTrans has. A roundabout will take a lot of extra money to afford the extra easements necessary. We really looked into roundabout a few years back when we did the Ramona Master Road plan and the engineers told us it wasn't feasible for our intersection, volume and speed. In additon the problem with our intersection is compounded by all the side roads that interfere with traffic flow. We have so darn many driveways all along the stretch from Dye Road to Archie Moore Road that heavily impact traffic speeds and bring the highway speed to a crawl even when traffic is not that heavy. This should be addressed along with improving the intersection. Going to 2 lanes each way will allow the Dye Road exits an easier out, would greatly improve the backup at the light east bound in the evening and provide more cars queued up at the light ready to get thru it. Now the backup is single lane and take forever to speed up to get thru the light, that few cars actually get thru the light each round. We've been pointing this out to CalTrans for 10 years.
Paul Wilkinson April 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM
True with older roundabouts, but apparently there's much recent improvement in design. For example, the former State Traffic Engineer who was Chief of Transportation Planning with the Kansas Department of Transportation addresses the truck issue: "Large Trucks: My first thought was that large commercial trucks would not be able to negotiate a roundabout easily. I visited roundabouts in Maryland and Colorado, all of which were on the state highway system. All of these intersections carried fairly high overall traffic volumes as well as high numbers of trucks. All of these intersections were designed so that large trucks had no difficulties in traveling through the circular roadway. If you think about it, large trucks often swing a little wide in making a turn. This fits perfectly with the design of a roundabout...." (http://www.k-state.edu/roundabouts/news/Roundabouts.htm) The Federal Highway Administration has an updated web page: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/. Most interesting were all the comments on the article in the Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21538779/comments#comments. Looks like there can be 100% federal funding for roundabouts as a safety project. Check out http://www.cabq.gov/council/current-projects-and-studies/rio-grande-and-candelaria-roundabout and the comparisons of stoplight and roundabout layouts -- don't look too much larger. Could the beautiful new welcome structure go in the middle of a roundabout @ Dye & 67?

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