Report to SANDAG on the Infeasibility of the

Proposed Ramona Street Extension Project

 

 

August 27th, 2012

 

 

 

prepared by

 

 

 

Citizens For A Rural Ramona

(CFARR)

 

 

Mr. Jerry Myers, President

1819 Warnock Drive

Ramona, CA 92065

 

(760) 789-2652

 

 


Introduction

 

Location

 

The site of the proposed road segment is between the intersection of Warnock Drive and Ramona Street to the south and the intersection of Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street to the north in the community of Ramona. (Thomas Brother’s coordinates: Map 1172, F-2 and F-3). The northern point of this proposed road segment (Boundary Avenue/Ramona Street intersection) is almost exactly one mile south of State Highway 67 (Main Street) down Ramona Street.  On a map one gets the impression that the two segments of Ramona Street could easily be connected with a straight-line road. However, a rather formidable hill with two peaks intervenes and the land rises from the valley floor about 120 feet in the span of 1200 feet from the intersection of the Warnock Drive and Ramona Street.  It also has a 36" aqueduct that runs under this segment for about one-half the length of the proposed road extension.

 

Background

 

The proposed Ramona Street extension (PRSE) is a suggestion put forth initially by the County of San Diego (The Ramona Transportation Needs Assessment Study 2004) and promoted by the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) since that time. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that a legal vote of the RCPG validated its placement on the RCPG’s Top 10 Priority list. Consequently, five years (2005-2009) of Department of Public Works effort and expense went into the designing of this proposed road segment without community validation. This has been only the first of many missteps by both the RCPG and the DPW on this project from 2005 to 2012.  The County of San Diego and the Ramona Community Planning Group gave their blessing to the project because it appeared easy when viewed on a map.

 

            Ramona Community Planning Group

 

The first justification put forth by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

Connects the two segments of Ramona Street.

 

The RCPG did not consider the topography nor visit the site before approval. No consideration of safety, cost, or feasibility was entertained. Over the past five years we have invited the members of the RCPG more than a half a dozen times to come out and look at the topography and the challenges the site presents. Only a third of them have done so and only after they discovered that Supervisor Jacob did come and look at the site and walked it with representatives of CFARR on Saturday, March 3, 2012. 

 

The second justification espoused by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

There is enough money to do it.

 

The initial estimate of $2.2M (the conditions under which the Supervisors initially approved the project) have been completely overrun. Moreover, a Department of Public Works letter to the Supervisors dated 6/18/2008 stated “There will be no subsequent year costs and no need for additional staff as a result of this request.” (The request to fund the project.)  SANDAG is now considering giving this project an additional $4.5 M. CFARR has consistently found DPW cost estimates to be grossly understated.

 

 

The third justification espoused by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

Ramona Street has been identified as a thru street on the original Ramona map #643 of the 1890's.  The original easement of 30 feet was widened thru property sale contingencies to 60 feet, in 1979.

 

Ramona Street is shown as a single street from Warnock to 10th Street on the Map #643 of Ramona, Santa Maria Rancho, San Diego County, dated in the 1890s. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted map #643 in 1911. A careful review of this map reveals a distribution of streets differentiated by double and single lines.  The double lines appear to represent major thoroughfares while the single lines represent secondary routes. Currently named Main Street, San Vicente, Ashley, Keyes, Warnock, Creelman, Hanson, Telford, etc are all represented by double lines, while the now named Ramona Street is a single lined road (indicating it as a secondary or minor road). A further review of this map reveals many, many "major" roads that have never been expanded or extended to meet this originally conceived traffic control design.  For example, Creelman thru to Boundary; 13th Street to reach Olive, Poplar, Cedar and Ash extending from Elm to Alice; Alice fully extending to Ash, etc…  Further analysis at this time reveals that the single line roadway representation for this section of Ramona Street reflects a 30 foot wide easement deemed sufficient for wagon traffic of that era. In October 1979, an easement expansion effort was taken by the County of San Diego.  Property in Block 434 (directly West and adjacent to the currently proposed extension) was being split for sale by the owners at that time. As a contingency of this split, the County of San Diego required that this easement be expanded to a full 60 feet wide.  The purchasing owners had little choice, either not buy or agree to this contingency, which they did. Now the easement exists at 60 feet wide for most of the proposed segment. But it has always been intended as a minor road, not a major thoroughfare as now proposed. In fact when Milton Santee drew up the grid plan for Ramona in the first place, he probably made the same mistake that the RCPG and the DPW made by not considering the topography. The hill was too steep to be negotiated either by horses, buckboards or cars for the last 122 years and the traffic naturally sought the path of least resistance on San Vicente to the center of town. This argument cannot be used to justify this major arterial expansion of traffic.

 

 

The fourth justification espoused by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

This project is fully supported by the community.

 

The community does not support this project. CFARR has canvassed every residence within a mile of this proposed road project and every resident was against it except for one household on Boundary Avenue. Furthermore, CFARR was easily able to collect hundreds of signatures on a petition against the project in front of some of the local supermarkets. CFARR has also provided public information talks to the following organizations and individuals:  Supervisor Diane Jacob, Mr. Carl Hickman, Kiwanis Club of Ramona, Rotary Club of Ramona, San Diego Country Estates Board, Ramona Garden Club Board, RCPG Trails and Transportation Subcommittee, Ramona Forum, Santana Riders. We will continue our outreach to these remaining organizations:  American Association of University Women, American Legion, Citizens for Private Property Rights, Mussey Grade Road Alliance, Pioneer Historical Society, Rainbow Riders, Ramona Parks and Recreation, Ramona Trails, Ramona Women’s Club, Soroptomist of Ramona, VFW of Ramona, and the Women’s Connection.

 

The response of the public to this project is one of complete disbelief that the RCPG would consider it at all.  The public has recognized that no benefits will come from this project.

 

The RCPG members are elected officials and expected to represent their constituents. However, in this case, they prefer to exercise their own judgment rather than listen to their constituents. The RCPG so far has been for this project but against the wishes of the community. In the last 6 years, only one person from the community on one occasion spoke in support of this project. Alternatively, in the same time frame scores of people from all around the community have spoken at RCPG meetings to denounce the project.

 

The Trails and Transportation Committed has also not allowed CFARR to bring a complete presentation we prepared before the full RCPG. No in-depth public presentation of the problems and associated alternatives to this proposed extension have been available to all members of the RCPG at one time.

 

 

The fifth justification espoused by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

So much money has already been spent on the project that we must finish it.

 

This argument is just silly. Yes, the RCPG has directed to be spent at least $740,000 on engineering studies for the development of this road segment. After four attempts to engineer a solution, the DPW does not have a plan without fatal systemic flaws. So the choice is do you cut your losses and swallow the $740,000 engineering costs but know that you have learned something – that a good design cannot be produced or do you steam ahead and allocate millions of dollars more to build this road segment knowing that when you finish, it will make the community more unsafe and the County open to litigation?

 

 

The sixth justification espoused by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

The Transportation Needs Assessment Study in 2004 listed the Ramona Street extension as a needed "Circulation Element" connector.

 

The other focus of the Boyle & Company Needs Assessment Report for Ramona under the Transportation Impact Fees (TIF) Program was to evaluate Missing Roadway Connections or Circulation Elements. This term - CIRCULATION ELEMENT, which is now known under the term MOBILITY  - has been used as one of the core reasons for considering the Proposed Ramona Street Extension. If you GOOGLE - Road Definition Circulation Element - and then spend several hours reading the various uses of this term by a variety of towns, cities, and counties throughout the United States you can begin to understand that there are very specific conditions where this should be applied as a reason for road construction.

 

            First, the proposed road should solve a quantifiable traffic problem, and usually long-standing in time. However, there is no quantifiable, long-standing traffic problem that this proposed extension to Ramona Street will solve.

 

            Second, the proposed road should not add any Safety Hazards to the surrounding areas road patterns. This proposed extension to Ramona adds safety hazards all along Ramona Street from Boundary to HWY 67 due to increases in traffic and compounds the already identified hazards associated with the intersection of Ramona Street and Hanson Lane. Further, it will create new problems at Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street and also at Warnock Drive and Ramona Street. Traffic will become more much slower.

 

            Third, the cost benefit analysis should be clearly supportive of the effort. The potential cost of near 4.5 million dollars for an extension that is about 1800 feet long cannot conceivably pass any cost benefit analysis study.

 

            And fourth, it should fit the environment that it supports. It creates a scar in the landscape similar to that carved through the hills of Scripps Poway Parkway but through a quiet rural residential area. This cut through a hillside in the rural area of Ramona creates a blight on the landscape that cannot be mitigated.

 

Thus this proposed Ramona Street extension fails all four essential criteria as a circulation element.

 

 

The seventh and final justification floated by the Ramona Community Planning Group was:

 

This proposed road segment will serve as an evacuation route.

 

According to the San Diego County Ramona Community Protection and Evacuation Plan, Ramona Community Planning Area, Oct. 2005, Revised Jan. 2011, the proposed Ramona Street extension does not appear and is not mentioned as a planned evacuation route. A careful review of the adjacent neighborhood reveals approximately 150 homes that might choose this route as one closer than others for evacuation purposes. So for over $5M we’re going to create an evacuation route that might service about 150 homes? Certainly, there is a better way to spend taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, if traffic does need to get from one side of the hill to the other (Boundary Avenue area to the Warnock Drive area) there already exists a route at zero expense– Royal Vista Road that is completely available and serviceable.

 

 

The bottom line of this history is to provide the various shifting justifications that have been put forth in the past seven years by the Ramona Community Planning Group, all of which have proven to be without merit.  This should be carefully considered during any deliberations regarding this proposed street extension and the continued expenditure of funds for its completion.

 

 

            Department of Public Works, San Diego County

 

In addition to the justifications that have been put forth by the RCPG above, the Department of Public works points out that this segment appears on the San Diego County 2020 Plan.  Unfortunately, the existence of the road segment on the 2020 plan is based upon the arguments that have been identified above and has remained because the current RCPG has refused to revisit the issue. Furthermore, the County Board of Supervisors have approved the road extension merely on the advice of their staff. Before, during, and after the RCPG injected this proposed road extension into the 2020 plan list, no approving government body has taken the time to fully understand the details of this plan or the profound negative implications to the Ramona community that this proposed road segment will have.

 

While the Ramona Community Planning Group was wrestling with their inability to provide a sound rationale for this project, The Department of Public Works was dealing with difficulties associated with the actual design of the road.

 

Plan I prior to Dec. 2007

 

We never got to see Plan I because it never got out of the DPW. In a personal communication from Mr. Ed Zielanski, the then project manager, the first plan was abandoned when the DPW discovered there was a City of San Diego 36” aqueduct underlying about half of the proposed road segment. The DPW had not done their homework.

 

Plan II - March 19, 2008 at 100%

 

To avoid the aqueduct altogether, Plan II was developed, proposing large ramps of soil up on either side of the hill. An increase of as much as 12 feet above grade on the south side of the hill and 8 feet above grade on the north side of the hill was proposed. Unfortunately, this created serious side effects. To support a 12 foot rise in elevation, a pyramid of soil over 40 feet on each side of the roadway would have had to be built. This would have produced steep ramps for driveways leading up to the proposed roadway and encroached unreasonably on both the houses nearby and a well that one owner relies on for all their water. There were other violations of roadway slope, spacing between driveways, and traffic flow line-of-sight with the County’s own Road Building Standards. CFARR began vigorously pointing out these shortcomings and at a meeting of the RCPG, the plan was rejected. However, instead of abandoning the project altogether, the RCPG asked the DPW to come up with a third plan. At this point we began asking the RCPG members to come to the site to gain an appreciation for the difficulty in designing the road. They did not respond and relied on their straight-line map approach.

 

Plan III - June 1, 2010 at 30%

 

This third plan proposed to lower the roadway by 5 feet at the summit of the hill and thereby avoided the large ramps of soil on either side of the segment. In doing this, they did not materially address the shortcomings of Plan II (namely, slope, traffic flow line-of-sight, and inadequate spacing of driveways). A further difficulty arose for the DPW when the County Board of Supervisors adopted on March 3rd, 2010 more stringent road-building standards.  This document required an overall plans review, and ultimately a rework effort to resolve many, many engineering challenges. Also, now that the roadbed is lowered, it intersects with the 36 inch aqueduct under the roadbed. Consequently, the aqueduct will need to be lowered as well. The additional cost to lower the aqueduct was estimated at the time to be $980K. There is also a municipal water line that will need to be rerouted, utility lines, and a large granite feature under the ground that would have to be blasted or broken. No estimate exists on the cost of dealing with the granite feature.

 

Plan IV - November 3, 2011 at 70%

 

Because traffic flow line-of-sight along the whole segment and slope at the intersections had to be addressed more stringently, the DPW’s response was to continue to lower the roadbed so the entire segment became a smooth curve that supposedly had the 400 feet traffic flow line-of-sight. This plan calls for lowering the roadbed 14 feet at the summit of the hill instead of 5 feet. Although this plan minimized the earthwork on either end of the road segment, it now maximizes the impact for residents bordering the top of the hill. Essentially, the DPW has traded one bad design for another. Encroachment is severe and causes additional problems that will be addressed later in this paper. The DPW still has problems with driveway placement not meeting the building standards and they acknowledge that they would need exceptions to be approved to implement any conceivable design. They also continue to have traffic flow line-of-sight problems at several places on the proposed roadway. Furthermore, the proposed extension has consistently fallen under the criteria of “Light Collector” and using the Mobility Element Road Classification table from Appendix A of the Public Road Standards of March 3rd, 2010 for Light Collector with Intermittent Turn Lanes the typical range is 64 to 90 feet wide. This minimum of 64 feet exceeds the planned project width of 60 feet and the County owned easement property of 60 feet. Therefore, it is not a Light Collector.

 

Plan V - (Pending)

 

There is currently no information on whether the DPW will continue with Plan IV or create a new plan that will have the roadbed altered one more time. Although this latest design was supposed to be unveiled the RCPG in the Fall of 2012, we understand that due to insufficient staffing and different roads acquiring priority, any new design for the proposed Ramona Street extension may be as much as a year away. The systemic flaws will still be there.

 

 

CFARR Concerns

 

Safety  

 

The RCPG has never discussed the safety of this proposed road segment. Rather they have left it up to the DPW to design a safe road. However, the DPW now has the following issues to deal with:

 

·        The latest plans show a stop sign located on northbound Ramona Street at Warnock Drive. This means that every San Diego Estates driver that routinely travels this route to and from work will now have an added stop sign to contend with. Traffic could easily backup as far as Dye Road, thus adding a safety and convenience concern for driveways along Ramona Street and into Dye Road.

 

·        Another stop sign is located at the Ramona Street and Warnock Drive intersection for newly created Ramona Street traffic going southbound.  This creates a major safety concern as all stopped traffic blocks an existing driveway used by the property owner (Paul).

 

·        The third stop sign is being added on Boundary Avenue for eastbound traffic.  We've cited over 750 vehicle trips per day that use this route to drop off and pick up children at the Hanson Elementary School.  These vehicles will now have to stop at this intersection twice a day.  Backed up traffic will block driveways all along Boundary Avenue thus posing a safety concern.

           

·        The addition of a left turn lane from the proposed Ramona Street extension onto Boundary Avenue requires a clear 100 foot traffic flow line-of-sight distance in all directions. This cannot be achieved looking to the right up Creelman Road. The roadway angles upwards +10%, +23%, +17%, and +11.9% thus limiting line of sight length; and this entry to the intersection has no traffic controls.

 

·        Creelman Road and Boundary Avenue are also misaligned by 14 feet.

 

·        All past plans have violated the slope requirements for roads entering the Warnock Drive and Ramona Street as well as the Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street intersections in some regard. This will need to be carefully watched.

 

·        Any road expansion in the area of the Warnock Drive and Ramona Street intersection will intrude on the leach field of the resident on the north east corner (Myers).

 

·        Traffic flow line-of-sight for cars entering/exiting the lower driveway of the Myers property is extremely short for traffic coming down Warnock Drive and turning right onto the proposed Ramona Street extension and time to react is also very short.

 

·        Driveways along the proposed roadway between Boundary Avenue and Warnock Drive are many and congested. Distances between driveways entering the proposed Ramona Street extension are considerably less than 100 feet as required for safety by the new Public Road Standards (60 feet, 81 feet, 70 feet, 95 feet center to center) and as a safety factor is not capable of being mitigated.

 

·        Many of the driveways along the proposed extension are planned to be highly reconfigured. Encroachment is severe and in the last plan we studied several driveways exceeded the allowable slope of 20% (the maximum allowed). Encroaching more deeply into affected properties to compensate for slope is unacceptable (70 or 100 feet in some cases). This proposed project will drop the roadbed away from the natural landscape levels as much as 15 feet. The driveway for property A (see below) exceeds this as does the roadway into Creelman. In addition, Fire Department approval, for access of Emergency vehicles is required where grades greater than 15% exist. This will be required for driveways for property owners A. E, F, G, Creelman access, and property owner H.

 

·        The upper homeowner (Brennecke) has two gates facing east from his property, one on each side of the driveway and separated from by several hundreds of feet. Both driveways will need to be preserved. One is needed to service the wells on the property and to provide access to remodeling of the home. The other is required to allow nursery stock to be transported out of the northern half of the property. These new driveways further congest the corridor and complicate safe ingress/egress from the property.

 

·        If a new driveway is placed on the north end of the Brennecke property to support nursery operations, traffic flow line-of-sight for ingress/egress through that gate is insufficient for traffic turning right onto the extension from Boundary Avenue.

 

·        Almost all of the affected property owners are elderly. If the roadway is built, unsafe levels of hydrocarbons, heat, noise, and dust will endanger their health. One owner (LaBelle) will experience approximately a 3.11 million fold increase in noise.

 

·        The septic leach field for the homeowner at the top of the proposed roadway (Brennecke) is 111 feet from the easement boundary. If the roadway is lowered 15 feet at the summit, the cut past the easement could be 30 feet or more. Also, this homeowner is required to have a 100% expansion capacity of his leach field. This would continue to travel down hill at least another 40 feet and place the edge of the leach field within 74 feet of the easement boundary. Subtracting the 30 foot cut places the effluent within 44 feet of the road cut.

 

·        With or without sidewalks, pedestrian safety concerns exist all along the newly created Ramona Street corridor, from Hanson Lane to Warnock and includes school children walking/riding bikes along this route.

 

·        Americans with Disability Act requirements for sidewalks requires a slope of less than 1:20 (less than 5%). The sidewalks on the proposed Ramona Street extension are greater than 10%. No DPW design for this roadway can meet this standard.

 

·        Although the traffic report still places the LOS level (B) the same for increased traffic volumes along the surrounding roadways by 2030, the volume projections are considerably higher (close to double in some cases). For residents accustomed to their current quiet traffic volumes, the increases due to this extension are an extreme hazard especially for families with children and pets. The traffic on Ramona Street will increase from 1840 vehicles daily to 3000 per day. The traffic volume on Ramona Street to/from Boundary Avenue to Hanson Lane will increase by 1260 vehicles per day. The remainder of about 580 vehicles will diffuse to/from Boundary Avenue, Hunter Street, Etcheverry Street, San Diego Avenue, and Rowley Avenue.  This is a significant impact to the surrounding area. Furthermore, the Traffic Impact Study was done in the summer before the school traffic on Boundary Avenue was known. The Traffic Impact Study concluding that there would be no impact to the surrounding area is highly suspect.

 

 

Impacts on Traffic

 

From Main Street to Boundary Avenue  (north side of proposed extension):

 

This one mile stretch of road between Main Street and Boundary Avenue contains five busy intersections: H Street and Ramona Street, Rowley Avenue and Ramona Street, Ramona Street and Hanson Lane, San Diego Avenue and Ramona Street, and Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street. For the first four of these intersections, traffic wishing to enter Ramona Street must stop for a stop sign. Boundary Avenue to Ramona Street is currently a simple ninety degree turn with no traffic delays.  The major impacts on traffic in the area are the following:

 

·        H Street and Ramona Street 

 

The H Street and Ramona Street intersection is expected to degrade in service (increase in delays) somewhat if the proposed Ramona Street extension is built. (page 14 of the Linscott, Law, & Greenspan Traffic Study).

 

 

 

 

·        Rowley Avenue and Ramona Street 

 

The intersection of Rowley Avenue and Ramona Street will become much more congested, especially during hours of heavy school traffic due to the expected diffusion of traffic off of Boundary Avenue from the Hanson Elementary School onto Rowley Avenue. This will severely impact the driveway of the Ramona Community School (on the corner of Hanson Lane and Ramona Street), which is directly across the street from the mouth of Rowley Avenue.

           

·         Hanson Lane and Ramona Street 

 

A March 10, 2011 article in the Ramona Sentinel entitled “Planners Target Traffic Safety Concerns” identifies the intersection of Ramona Street and Hanson Lane as being particularly dangerous. In the past six years there have been 15 collisions at this intersection. Traffic volumes include 4,600 cars traveling west-bound on Hanson Lane, 3,800 cars traveling south-bound on Ramona Street, and over 1,300 cars traveling north-bound on Ramona Street. Currently a stop sign exists for Hanson Lane traffic entering Ramona Street.     The Ramona Community Planning Group indicated that an all-way stop would "…back-up traffic…", so their other suggestions were to be forwarded for consideration to the DPW (they decided to re-stripe the intersection and add a sign reading 'CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP" but none of their options address the additional traffic flow if the proposed Ramona Street extension were to be completed. The traffic study predicts, if the extension is built, that Hanson Lane will remain at LOS D. There has been some talk of a traffic light at this intersection. If that occurs traffic delays and congestion in the area will increase dramatically.

 

·        San Diego Avenue and Ramona Street

 

This intersection is in very close proximity to the Hanson Lane and Ramona Street intersection. It will also receive an increase in traffic from the diffusion of Hanson Elementary School traffic away from the Boundary Avenue stop sign (see next paragraph). This complicates an already complicated situation.

 

If a light is placed at the Hanson Lane and Ramona Street intersection, as some have proposed, no stop sign traffic from San Diego Avenue will be able to enter Ramona Street. Either they will be blocked by northbound traffic or risk getting hit by southbound traffic being waved on by the green light. The same situation holds for the Rowley Avenue traffic.

 

 

 

·        Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street

 

If the extension is completed, the intersection of Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street will change from two roads entering the intersection to three roads entering the intersection. Currently, traffic has only one way to go and does so smoothly and without delay in both directions (we have counted over 750 vehicle trips per day). If there is a stop sign for traffic approaching Ramona Street on Boundary Avenue as now proposed (so Ramona Street traffic will have the right-of-way), traffic going down Ramona Street and turning right on Boundary Avenue to the Hanson Elementary School at the end of Boundary Avenue will be unimpeded. However, after dropping off or picking up their kids, parents will be confronted with a stop sign as they return to Ramona Street. This delay is easily avoided by traffic choosing instead to turn down Hunter Street or Cook Street to eventually come out at Rowley Avenue and Ramona Street or at San Diego Avenue and Ramona Street. Consequently, there will be more traffic and congestion at these two intersections and they dump traffic a half a block to the north of Hanson Lane (Rowley Avenue) and a half a block to the south of Hanson Lane (San Diego Avenue). Traffic congestion will increase along Ramona Street and Hanson Lane even more.

 

The stop sign at Ramona Street on Boundary Avenue represents "…a common misuse of stop signs… by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes." (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). If a stop sign is placed on the proposed Ramona Street extension, a traffic flow back-up could reach all the way backwards into Warnock Drive and/or Ramona Street.

 

From Warnock Drive to Dye Road (south side of proposed extension):

 

·        Warnock Drive and Ramona Street

 

The Warnock Drive and Ramona Street intersection is similar to the Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street situation. Currently, there are only two roads entering the intersection and traffic flows smoothly and without delay around the corner in both directions. If the proposed Ramona Street extension is built, there will again be three roads entering the intersection and there will need to be some form of traffic arbitration. Warnock Drive is currently at LOS D. If a stop sign impedes traffic for Warnock Drive traffic traveling west or Ramona Street traffic going north then delays will not help the LOS value. We estimate that over 500 cars travel through this curve daily between 6:30 and 8:00 a.m. weekdays. The latest plan called for a stop sign for northbound Ramona Street traffic. This would create a major inconvenience and unnecessary delays for San Diego Country Estates traffic attempting to return home after passing through the HWY 67/Dye Road intersection. Traffic could be backed up as far as Dye Road. Conversely, if a stop sign were to be placed on Warnock Drive at Ramona Street traffic could back up during the morning rush as far back as San Vicente Road.

 

 

Given the traffic accident statistics for Ramona Street and Hanson Lane, similar or greater numbers might be projected for the two altered intersections (Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street and Warnock Drive and Ramona Street). Every option compounds the already recognized heavy traffic flow and increases the level of danger for every intersection on Ramona Street.

 

 

Costs

 

The very first statement regarding costs for the proposed Ramona Street extension is the initial estimate of $2.2M (the conditions under which the Supervisors initially approved the project), which included construction costs of $690,000.00 only.

 

The Department of Public Works letter to the Supervisors dated 6/18/2008 stated

           

            “There will be no subsequent year costs and no need for additional staff          as a result of this request.”

 

These costs have continued to escalate time after time since this statement.

 

These are the latest costs figures (pre-SANDAG DRAFT DOCUMENT) provided from various sources to include actual documents from the Department of Public Works:

           

TOTALS SPENT TO DATE PER DPW (in thousands):

totals   prior    08-09  09-10  10-11  11-12  12-13  13-14  14-15  PE       RW      CON

$240   $240   $240                                                                           $240

$450   $450               $450                                                               $450

  $55.3$55.3                          $55.3                                                    $55.3

$140   $140                                       $140                                       $140

$885.3$885.3$240   $450   $55.3  $140                                       $885.3

 

PROJECTED COSTS PER DPW:

$233                                                               $233                           $233

$250                                                               $250                                       $250

$2,100                                                                        $2,100                                 $2,100

$1,050                                                                                    $1,050                     $1,050

$3,633                                                            $483   $2,100$1,050$233  $250 $3,150

 

TOTAL COSTS PER DPW:

$4,518.3         $240   $450   $55.3  $140   $483   $2,100$1,050$1,118.3

                                                                                                                        $250$3,150              

VERSUS SANDAG FIGURES FROM THE DRAFT DOCUMENT (in thousands)

funds   totals   prior    12/13              13/14              14/15              PE       RW      CON

-L         $287   $287                                                                           $233     $54

-LSI $4,197    $671   $250             $2,163              $1,113            $671   $250  $3,276

-LSI

(CASH)$19      $19                                                                             $19

 

totals$4,503   $977   $250             $2,163              $1,113            $923   $304  $3,276

 

SANDAG COSTS..

 

                        Engineering               $923,000.00

                        Right-of-Way              $304,000.00

                        Construction          $3,300,000.00

 

                                    Total           $4,527,000.00

 

While it might appear that only minor discrepancies exist between these two agencie’s figures, the areas where costs are different can be of serious consequence when deciding on the real costs for this project, and they need to be reconciled.  In planning development, the costs do not include money associated with future litigation which appears very likely at this time, nor the added cost for property acquisition which now may include three more property owners than initially planned.  The cost of moving the City of San Diego aqueduct was estimated by the DPW to be $980,000 by itself.

 

Another factor is the inclusion/exclusion of TIF funds… The Transportation Needs Assessment Study in 2004 listed the Ramona Street extension for TIF funds support.

 

The "needs assessment" created a listing of Roadway deficiencies based upon Missing Roadway Connections (Circulation Elements), Safety Deficiencies, and Roadway Capacity Limitations. A number of proposals were identified for Ramona, including the Extension of Ramona Street from Boundary Ave to Warnock Dr., with the justification listed as: "Construct new roadway as 2-Ln Light Collector", and to "Improve Connectivity/Capacity". Six other proposals were identified for Ramona with exactly the same overall objective:

A St from N 14th St to SR-78, Raymond Ave from Ramona St. to E Montecito Rd, D St from E Montecito Rd to 14th St., E Montecito Rd from Raymond Ave to South End of E Montecito Rd., Vermont St from Day St to Montecito Rd, and 16th St from Ramona St to Sr-67. Thus a total of seven road changes were identified for Ramona using TIF funds.

 

This report also includes the projected "FACILITY COST SUMMARY" for each project. This report, done in the fall of 2004 reflects a cost for the proposed Ramona Street to be a total amount of $3,522,000.00, and using 15% TIF funds with Other Funding (Sources = None Identified). And please note that this proposed extension of Ramona Street was the third highest in cost – so four other projects would have cost less. Only one of these seven projects has survived onto the Ramona Community Planning Group’s listing of Top Ten Capital Improvement Projects (CIP). The justification discussions center around the issue of costs. It seems that this projected cost best fit into the County’s available funds at the time and least costly projects were discarded. The 2004 Transportation Needs Assessment for Ramona under the Transportation Impact Fees (TIF) Program DOES NOT ISOLATE this extension project for focused attention; it identifies seven roadway projects for equal consideration, along with costs for each. The cost and funding picture has also changed dramatically since 2004 and this can no longer be considered a serious justification. No facts prevail here to justify the attention that this extension is receiving from the RCPG.

 

Unfortunately, the latest TIF funding document excludes all road projects for Ramona except the Highland Valley Road, being justified as needing considerable revisions since it serves as an essential evacuation route for the greater Ramona Community.

 

Over three quarters of a million dollars has already been spent to propose an 1800 foot roadway to benefit less than 3.2% of the Ramona Community (accepted population of 52-55 thousand in 2012 and the road study of 2007 estimated that this will accommodate 1800 cars per day initially and increasing to 3000 cars in 2030).

 

 

Impacts on Locale

 

·        The aesthetics of the area will be severely affected. The hill through which the proposed roadway must cut is pastoral and gently rolling. The roadway will be deeply cut with high slopes extending both east and west to 30 or more feet.

 

·        If forged, increased traffic through this corridor will tend to develop the southern valley of Ramona for non-rural uses. The southern valley lies beyond the natural suburban/rural boundary at Boundary Avenue.

 

·        The site of this hill is the only suitable site for a botanical garden in the Ramona Valley. The entire 100 acre area would be a greater asset to the Ramona Community if it were developed into such a recreational/research facility.

 

Impacts on Affected Homeowners

 

In the March 2011 meeting CFARR had with Supervisor Jacob, the Supervisor indicated that she would direct the Department of Public Works to meet individually with each affected homeowner to resolve any issues they had with this proposed road segment. Some meetings did take place but others have not, especially with the four landowners affected by the extension of the project beyond its original 1335 foot segment past the bounding intersections. Nevertheless, the concerns of the immediately affected landowners are the following:

 

All Landowners

 

·        No overall construction drainage plan has been provided.

·        Sanitation concerns during construction (strict enforcement).

·        All disturbed soil conditions must be returned to their pre-consruction conditions (uncompacted soil for instance).

·        Increased fire hazards both during and after construction.

·        Litter abatement concerns during construction.

·        All existing wells must be protected from all construction/blasting damage. There are four wells in the immediate area one of which is the sole source of water for one resident (Paul). Another resident’s entire nursery operation and plants created as the result of over 30 years of scientific research are dependent on their well (Brennecke). With the possibility of rock breaking equipment or blasting to create the roadway comes the possibility of altering the output of these wells. The County will be held accountable for any negative effects.

·        Concerns exist regarding location/disruption/relocation of all utilities.

·         Health issues exist associated with construction/new road traffic (diesel and gas fumes, carbon monoxide, dust, noise, etc…

·        Property devaluation concerns exist as a direct result of being next to a busy road.

·        Emergency/Fire/Delivery vehicle access must be protected during and after construction. One driveway on the last plan was projected to be 24.5% and another to be 23.5%/17.5%.

·        Driveway-to-driveway separations will be unsafe. Use of horse trailers/trailers multiplies the amount of time needed for safe ingress and egress.

·        Roadbed blasting concerns exist.

·        Location of stop signs will cause major traffic backups and viscosity.

·        Utilities – no disruption of electrical/water/phone/cable services can occur.

 

 

 

Individual Landowners

 

Landowner A (Brennecke)

 

·        This project represents a disruption/destruction of a botanical garden plan (in the 31st year of a 55 year project) on the only appropriate site for such a project in the Ramona area.

·        Security concern – fencing must be maintained during construction to guard against theft of plants of irreplaceable scientific and horticultural value.

·        The pre-installation of all replacement irrigation systems must be done before disruption of current lines to prevent possible plant losses. About 75% of the established infrastructure for the nursery operation will be affected by the current road design.

 

·        Property access concerns:

o       The current primary driveway plan reveals severe and unacceptable encroachment into the property well beyond the easement boundary (70 to 100 feet or more) and results in a slope angle that is equally unacceptable.

o       The driveway line-of-sight limitations results in safety problems.

o       Two other fence gates need access to the proposed roadway to allow full property access. Full access is the current situation.

·        Liability – any plant/business losses will result in claims submissions.

·        Reimbursements will be sought for any plant losses associated with land loss resulting from cut slopes.

·        Up to 18 months notice will be required to move plant materials in or to protect germplasm on unique existing plants.

·        Safeguards must be in place for bamboo plants associated with research projects (no loss of research identified plants without loss of research efforts).

·        Special concerns exist regarding potential damage to two wells; all plants on the property rely on this water source.

·        Property losses due to edge sloping are not acceptable. Retaining walls will be needed to minimize the impact of the project.

 

Landowner B (Paul)

 

·        Fencing – must preinstall fencing to ensure property/animal security and then replace with like-kind fencing.

·        Gates – move inside property line 30 feet to allow truck/trailer entry off street traffic.

·        Safety – stop sign directly near the property gate will result in hazardous conditions if even one car is at the stop sign.

·        Well on the property is the sole source of water and is very close to the proposed road. Loss or modification of this resource is not acceptable.

 

Landowner C (Dahlke)

 

·        No meeting with the landowner has been scheduled by the DPW although they have been directed to do so by Supervisor Jacob.

 

Landowner D (unknown)

 

·        No meeting with the landowner has been scheduled by the DPW although they have been directed to do so by Supervisor Jacob.

 

Landowner E (Myers)

 

·        Safety concern, upper driveway – changes the access angle to 90ş and increase both driveway’s setback width and distance to ensure large truck/trailers have the ability to pull off traffic path during property ingress/egress

·        If a right turn lane is created on Warnock Drive to service right turn traffic onto the new proposed Ramona Street extension, it will come in contact with the homeowner’s leach field.

 

Landowner F (LaBelle)

 

·        Need to add a driveway parallel to the proposed extension and adjacent to the extension to provide access to the lower property. This may require relocation of the 20x20 metal building and foundation at County expense.

·        May require slope or retaining wall and vehicle headlight diffuser along this access driveway.

·        Increase in noise will be unacceptable. (3.1 million fold increase from the proposed roadway).

·        Roadway will be exceptionally close to the existing house (15 feet).

·        There also may be an issue with a well on this property.

 

Landowner G (Buck)

 

·        The proposed driveway creates a serious safety concern based upon the traffic flow line-of-sight limitations it presents. The slope angle is also unacceptable. An entire redesign will be required to solve this issue to allow safe use with a horse trailer.

 

Landowner H (unknown)

 

·        No meeting with the landowner has been scheduled by the DPW although they have been directed to do so by Supervisor Jacob.

 

Landowner I (Agnew)

 

·        No meeting with the landowner has been scheduled by the DPW although they have been directed to do so by Supervisor Jacob.

 

 

Alternative Routes

 

Two alternative routes already exist to provide access around the hill bounded by Boundary Avenue, Royal Vista Road, Warnock Drive, and Dowle’s Dairy. First, Royal Vista connects Ramona Street near the Warnock Drive intersection and then connects to Boundary. Second, Keyser Road is already shown as a connected road from Warnock Drive all the way through to Hanson Lane. The Department of Public Works has rejected both alternatives as too expensive but has not provided any quantifiable or verifiable arguments and no report or study to substantiate their claims.

 

 

Information Decay

 

It is quickly approaching December 2012, which will mark the fifth anniversary of the original traffic study by Linscott, Law, and Greenspan (Dec. 6, 2007). This raises the important issue of whether any of the current documentation associated with this proposed street extension is current enough to be useful. We also have concerns about the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study of record that cannot be brought directly forward from the initial cancelled plan (Plan II) for this project and will have to be entirely recreated.

 

Plan IV is not in substantial conformance with Plan II because of the obligatory relocation of an aqueduct that peaks at its highpoint in the center of this Proposed Ramona Street Extension. This aqueduct is not mentioned in the project description of the mitigated negative declaration. Furthermore, the Traffic Study was done in the summer when there was no school traffic. Although the authors made some arbitrary 1% and 5% adjustments in a weak effort to compensate, this raises the entire issue of how one is to trust the numbers and projections in this study when their model was not validated later.

 

CFARR has consulted with experts in the area of County road construction and has been advised that the time frames between most supporting studies and this project extend beyond any reasonable period (2 to 5 years), and their counsel has indicated that most all the supporting studies are invalid and should be redone in order to ensure proper continuation of this project.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

All the justifications the RCPG used to inject this proposed road extension into the 2020 plan have proven to be groundless. The Department of Public Works attempts to justify it as a “circulation element” but the segment does more harm than good to the Ramona community and traffic and does not meet the accepted criteria for a “circulation element”. The Traffic Study is completely out of date and of dubious quality in the first place. The Department of Public Works has had four attempts to design the road and has failed four times to develop a plan that can not only conform to it’s own building standards but be safe for all affected landowners and the public (both vehicular and pedestrian traffic). At the same time that the Ramona Community Planning Group is seeking funds to study the intersection of Highway 67/Dye Road/Highland Valley Road, they have encouraged the expenditure of over three quarters of a million dollars in the plans and studies associated with the proposed Ramona Street extension, and continue to support the expenditure of almost another one-third of a million dollars on plans and studies for this 1800 foot road bed that to this day fails to meet the test of a simple question: What problem does this extension solve?

 

After almost two years of asking the above question, on August 15th, 2012 a resident of Ramona, Mrs. Carolyn Hood, received an answer. Mr. Richard Crompton, Director of the San Diego County Department of Public Works offered this defense of the project: “Regarding your first item of concern, this project is not being undertaken or caused by a specific problem. Rather, it is part of an overall effort to complete the planned road network defined in the County’s General Plan (GP).  … Providing additional travel routes to drivers will enhance their ability to avoid traffic bottle necks which will help in reducing traffic congestion.”

 

But as we have seen, although a link is forged in the traffic network, it will cause congestion and unsafe conditions on Ramona Street and in the surrounding area for vehicles and pedestrians, destroy the ambience of the area (not fit in), create impacts on affected land owners that are onerous, and solves no specific problem including traffic circulation. On page 16 of the Dec. 2007 Linscott, Law, & Greenspan traffic report for this extension, Table 6-2, last column on the right, the significance of the impact to all intersection operations in the area with or without the extension is considered “None”. On page 22 of the same traffic study, the Year 2030 intersection operations as a result of building this segment are also all “None”. On page 15 and 16, existing road segment operations also lists an impact of “None” to all road segments except for the Etcheverry Street and Ramona Street segment on Highway 67 which degrades. And finally on p. 23, Table 8-2 showing the year 2030 street segment operations, only changes in average daily trips are given without a significance column but traffic along Ramona Street remains at the same LOS level. Probably no impact here as well.

 

Also, on page 26 of the same study, in paragraph 9.1 we find the following: “As seen in Table 9-1, there is very little difference in the calculated travel time and speed without and with the Ramona Street extension for any of the timeframes analyzed.”

 

If there are only negligible impacts, why should it be built?

 

 

Advantages to Termination

 

·        Termination would prevent consideration of this project by a future iteration or generation of amateur (RCPG) or professional planners (DPW).

 

·        It will save the County and SANDAG a considerable amount of money on a project with no positive impacts.

 

·        The current configuration maintains safety and traffic flow in the entire area for pedestrians, vehicular, and animal (horse) traffic. The proposed Ramona Street extension erodes or destroys this situation.

 

·        It allows for the possible development of a green belt (versus concrete and asphalt) adjacent to the suburban/rural boundary (i.e., Boundary Avenue and south of Boundary Avenue) one mile from the center of town.

·         

 

Recommendation

 

Supervisor Jacob has sent the latest plan for this road extension (Plan IV) back to the Department of Public Works to be reworked – again. Because of the systemic multiplicity of problems associated with this road extension and the fact that the San Diego County Department of Public Works has admitted to being forced to seek exceptions to any design that could fit this terrain (no good design exists or could ever exist), CFARR recommends this project not be funded. It can only be a liability to the County and the Community of Ramona.

 

 

Request for Rebuttal

 

CFARR understands that there will be a response to these comments by the County Department of Public Works before the September 7th SANDAG meeting. Typically, their responses are not shared with the commentors prior to the meeting. In this case, CFARR would like to receive the DPW responses to this report several days prior to the SANDAG meeting so we may have an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies or question any ambiguities in the DPW responses. CFARR would also like to be placed on the SANDAG notification list for any SANDAG projects, meetings, or votes by approving agencies for all projects within the Ramona Valley or San Diego Country Estates. The CFARR contact information is on the cover of this document.

 

 

Bibliography

 

The Ramona Transportation Needs Assessment Study 2004

 

The most recently developing Fourth Plan for the Proposed Ramona Street Extension.

 

Part III Circulation Element San Diego County General Plan as Adopted December 5, 1967. Amended July 27, 1994

 

Cultural Resources Survey Report for Ramona Street Extension - Negative Findings dated July 2006

 

Draft Report Technical Noise Study for Ramona Street Extension Project, Ramona, California dated October 2007

 

Letter Report LARA (Local Agricultural Resources Assessment) Agricultural Model Analysis Ramona Street Extension dated November 15, 2007

 

Traffic Impact Analysis Ramona Street Extension San Diego County, December 6, 2007, Linscott, Law, & Greenspan Engineers prepared for Jones & Stokes.

 

Ramona's Capital Improvement Plan List (CIP) 2008/2009 To 2012/2013 (Reproduced in PRIORITY ORDER)

 

Air Quality Analysis Report Ramona Street Extension dated January 2008

 

County of San Diego, Department of Public Works, CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) Initial Study - Environmental Checklist Form, February 28, 2008

 

County of San Diego NOTICE OF INTENT TO ADOPT A MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION dated March 4, 2008

 

Mitigated Negative Declaration (Draft) dated April 21, 2008, including            

 

            Attachment C List of Commentors and Letters of Comment on The Mitigated Negative Declaration for Ramona Street Extension Project Public Review Period March 4, 2008 - April 3, 2008, and

 

            Attachment D Mitigation Monitoring Program Mitigated Negative Declaration for Ramona Street Extension Project State Clearinghouse # 2008031013 dated April 2008

 

County of San Diego Land Use Agenda Item:  Ramona Street Extension Adopt Mitigated Negative Declaration and Resolution Accepting Offer of Easement dedication, Authorizing Negotiations for Right of Way Acquisition for Ramona (District 2) dated June 18, 2008

 

Notice of Determination Filing of Notice in Compliance with Public Resources Code 21108 or 21152 dated June 25 2008

 

County of San Diego, Department of Public Works, Public Road Standards, March 3, 2010

 

Plans For Construction of Ramona Street Extension RS 1682-1 Priliminary dated October 13 2011, and

 

Plans For Construction of Ramona Street Extension RS-1682-1 (70% Submittal) dated November 3, 2011

 

Ramona revitalization Steering Committee, Issues that Need Funding or Policy Decisions by the Board of Supervisors dated October 28, 2011

 

Addendum: Geotechnical Investigation Ramona Street Extension, San Diego County, California dated November 15, 2011

 

San Diego County Ramona Community Protection and Evacuation Plan, Ramona Community Planning Area, Oct. 2005, revised Jan. 2011.

 

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)

 

Draft 2012 Regional Transportation Improvement Program, July 2012, SANDAG

 

ANNUAL REPORT OF TRANSPORTATION IMPACT FEES (District: ALL) report of November 18, 2011