The Yucaipa City Council met on Dec 9 to review the County Line Road corridor project environmental review.
In 2013, Yucaipa City Council approved a citywide miscellaneous intersection roundabout study. The studies identified strategic intersections where vehicular traffic circulation would be improved and operate more efficiently in the long term with the construction of roundabouts. These streets included Avenue E and County Line Road.
The study also showed that potential single-lane roundabout intersections would improve operation and traffic flow along street segments between intersections along the arterial street. As a result of the implementation of roundabout intersections into the city’s General Plan Transportation Element, certain segments of the city’s arterials would no longer require widening from two lanes to four lanes.
“They (the roundabouts) wouldn’t have to be constructed to four lanes, in the future, which would save in construction costs and also right-of-way costs and would also reduce impacts to private properties,” said Fermin Preciado, Director of Public Works/City Engineer.
Roundabout intersections introduce significant intersection safety enhancements for both pedestrians and vehicles and represent a cost savings to the city when considering the long-term maintenance costs associated with traffic signal equipment and utility costs.
In 2017 Calimesa and Yucaipa held discussions regarding joint projects along County Line Road in order to improve operation and traffic flow through the intersections and improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Since both cities would mutually benefit from these improvements an agreement was prepared in order to identify the responsibility and funding commitment of both cities for the various improvements along County Line Road. “The project extends a little over 1-1/2 miles from Calimesa Boulevard to Bryant Street and is made up of several smaller projects,” said Preciado.
These improvements along County Line Road between Bryant Street and Calimesa Boulevard make up the County Line Road Transportation Corridor Project. “Over the last several years, both cities have been applying for grant funding to construct the overall project,” said Preciado.
Portions of the project are funded through an Mobile Source Reduction Committee grant that the city of Yucaipa applied for, a portion of the project was funded by the Active Transportation Program grant from CalTrans which has recently been completed, and a portion funded by SB1/LPP Grant, which the City of Calimesa was awarded about 1-1/2 years ago.
“Calimesa has taken the lead with the design, the engineering and also the environmental review for the SB1/LPP grant funded project and in order to start the right-of-way acquisition process and ultimately construct the project both cities must complete the environmental review … the initial study would determine if the project may have any effect on the environment. The initial study was prepared and processed pursuant to the states CEQUA (California Environmental Quality Act) guidelines,” said Preciado.
The initial study is intended to be an informational document providing the city council, other public agencies, affected property owners, and the general public with an objective assessment of the potential environmental impacts that could result form the implementation of the project.
“The study showed that there was no substantial evidence that the project would have a significant effect on the environment. The projects potential impacts have been reduced to a less than significant level by the implementation of several mitigation measures which were identified and are contained within the initial study document and based on that finding, a mitigated negative declaration is being recommended for adoption by the city council tonight along with the approval of a mitigation monitoring program,” said Preciado.
Two citizens came to address the council regarding their properties. Ben Gallegos stated that on the report his property showed full acquisition and he wanted to know “At what point in this process do I find out if it is going to be full acquisition.”
Property owner Chase Wilkins stated, “My house is across from the car wash it is a potential full acquisition and I’m here to clarify the right of way acquisition and how far up in my property because my property is pretty close to the corner. Even with making a turning lane it is barely minimum distance, so before anything is decided on … I would like clarification on actually how far the roads are going to go, the sidewalk, the corner, the actual wall before any decision is actually made. The 7-11 has a lot of space to move their parking lot over and the car wash is a big area as well and not much is being taken from those two. I have lived at this location since 2011 and there haven’t been very many car accidents. I understand the safety of a roundabout and it actually does make it safer. I’ve looked it up. I’ve done my research. I have family and kids that live there so I understand. My kids went to Calimesa School which is right around the block. I see all the kids walking all the time. The sidewalks that are there are great now and just got done, I see that. The corners aren’t done so obviously we knew something was eventually going to happen … (with this plan) my garage is going to be totally inaccessible so my house is not going to work with the roundabout.
Wilkins was told the city could build another garage for his property but it would have to be approved by the council at this meeting. “I would like it to be taken into consideration that I have lived there. I love Yucaipa. I don’t want to move,” said Wilkins.
“We certainly will meet with the first speaker what appears to be a full take,” said Ray Casey, City Manager.
“The second speaker requested information about the limits of the work and we can certainly state the limits of the work and very much appreciate his willingness to look at other options besides full take if we can make that work with garage access as he mentioned, being part of the challenge. The nice thing about roundabouts as he mentioned and we appreciate that, is that they are generally safer. They generally move traffic as well as four lanes do, as you heard the city engineer mention with other types of intersection improvements, but they have restrictions at the entry points/exit points relative to access. That is what sometimes creates a full take. It is difficult to have a garage access near the intersection with a design of a roundabout but we’re happy to look at that situation, state the limits of work and see if there is something that can be done on that property,” said Casey.
“I’m supportive of the project,” said Denise Allen, Mayor Pro Tem.
Mayor Pro Tem Allen went on to say, “Two lanes versus four lanes is better for roads that have homes along the roadways. It slows traffic down yet moves traffic from point A to point B in the same amount of time as we have found with the four lanes and traffic signals, so definitely the benefits and the cost savings are what we need to do in terms of tax payer benefit. I would want staff to work with any property owners that are being affected by this project and minimize the impact on their lives to whatever extent that we can. People need garages so … we need to be diligent with that and it looks like there are a few other properties as well that speakers aren’t here tonight to speak to but I know we’ve always been very good about working with the property owners to minimize the impact so I would say let’s continue with that,” said Allen.
“I agree with everything that Mayor Pro Tem Allen said in that we have always worked to try to minimize the impact to our residents and that is the whole point of the roundabout which is to narrow the roads to lessen the impact but unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t always work out but we try and do what we can,” said Councilmember Greg Bogh.
“Thank you for your observations gentlemen and your considerations and understanding,” said Mayor David Avila to the two speakers.
Allen moved the item, Bogh seconded, motion carried.
Supporting documents are available for public view on the City of Yucaipa website at yucaipa.org.