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Road switch approved for new Palomar College campus

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved changes to the county General Plan’s Circulation Element for a road alignment which will serve the future Palomar College campus in Fallbrook.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote October 21 deletes a segment of Pankey Road from the Circulation Element while adding a new north-south roadway which will be known as Horse Ranch Creek Road.

The Fallbrook campus, which will be located northeast of Interstate 15 and State Route 76, is expected to open in 2012.

The property is zoned as a specific plan area, and when the Campus Park Specific Plan was adopted in 1983 the Circulation Element included the construction of Pankey Road between SR-76 and Stewart Canyon Road. Although Pankey Road has been constructed north and south of the site, its completion would intrude into the Horse Ranch Creek wetlands and likely have adverse impacts to sensitive species.

Replacing the uncompleted segment of Pankey with Horse Ranch Creek Road, which would connect to SR-76 just under one mile east of Pankey, would avoid the wetlands area as well as a floodplain area, thus reducing environmental impacts.

The county’s Planning Commission held two hearings earlier this year on updates to the county’s road standards. A third hearing scheduled for December 18 will incorporate additional public input.

The proposed changes include creating two boulevard classifications: one with a raised median and one with intermittent turn lanes. Until the boulevard classification is officially created, Horse Ranch Creek Road will be classified as a major road in the Circulation Element.

The Palomar Community College District is on schedule to start construction of Horse Ranch Creek Road during the first quarter of 2010.

If the new county road standards are not adopted prior to construction, the district will apply for a roadway modification to the standards to allow for a modified major road with the desired stipulations.

The current major road standards require a right-of-way of 98 feet while the proposed modified road calls for a 106-foot width.

The design speed for a major road is 55 mph while the desired design speed for Horse Ranch Creek Road is 40 mph.

A major road requires a minimum 1,200-foot radius curve while the proposed road would have a minimum radius curve of 500 feet.

The major road standards include 10-foot parkways while Palomar College seeks 14 feet.

A major road does not have specific provisions for a landscaped median, which has been requested for Horse Ranch Creek Road.

Although Horse Ranch Creek Road would have a 106-foot right-of-way and the entire width would be graded, only the western half would be improved for travel during the college portion of the construction.

Two travel lanes would be constructed, as would curb and gutter improvements and a vegetated drainage swale.

The eastern half, which would include two lanes and the raised median, would be constructed in association with future discretionary projects in the area.

A 16-foot easement outside of the 106-foot right-of-way would include a meandering decomposed granite trail eight feet wide.

On May 18 the Fallbrook Community Planning Group voted 14-0 to recommend approval of the Circulation Element modifications.

On September 11 the Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend approval of the modifications and adopted California Environmental Quality Act findings that the Environmental Impact Report certified in July 2008 is adequate and does not require modification for the change.


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