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Signal proposed for Aviation and Mission

San Diego County’s Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that the intersection of Aviation and Mission Roads be placed on the county’s Traffic Signal Priority List.

The TAC’s April 23 recommendation is scheduled to go before the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on June 23. The county supervisors can ratify, overturn, or amend a TAC recommendation.

If an intersection is placed on the Traffic Signal Priority List, the actual installation of the signal will be based on priority points for safety and operational improvements rather than on the length of time the signal has been on the priority list.

The TAC had initially heard a citizen request on March 12 but continued the matter to its April 23 meeting at the request of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group. Planning group representative Anne Burdick was present at the April 23 meeting and expressed support for a signal.

“Everyone felt it could be a huge benefit,” Burdick said. “Not only are there accidents at the intersection but there are accidents coming out of the commercial area just south of the signal.”

In the 50-month period from January 1, 2005, to August 31, 2009, 18 collisions were reported at the intersection. The accident rate of 0.39 per million vehicles slightly exceeds the statewide average of 0.34 per million vehicles for similar suburban intersections.

That part of Mission Road has two travel lanes in each direction, left-turn pockets for both directions, and edge striping along both sides of the roadway. The street is approximately 81 feet wide and is classified as a Major Road in the county’s Circulation Element. The 35 mph speed limit is certified for radar enforcement.

Aviation Road is a striped two-lane roadway with stop controls at the intersection with Mission Road. It is approximately 43 feet wide west of the intersection and 29 feet wide east of the intersection. Aviation Road does not have a posted speed limit and is not classified on the Circulation Element map.

An October 2009 traffic survey at the intersection revealed an average daily traffic volume of 12,970 southbound vehicles on Mission Road north of Aviation Road, 11,260 northbound vehicles on Mission Road south of Aviation Road, 1,780 eastbound vehicles on Aviation Road west of Mission Road, and 870 westbound vehicles on Aviation Road east of Mission Road. The previous traffic survey at that intersection was conducted in November 1995 and determined an average daily traffic volume of 12,260 southbound, 13,950 northbound, 840 eastbound, and 860 westbound vehicles.

“We are concerned about the increase in pedestrian danger,” Burdick said.

While the planning group favors the signal, Burdick cautioned that Mission Road is the primary north-south route through Fallbrook. “Anything that’s going to disrupt the timing of that makes us all very apprehensive,” she said.

The County Department of Public Works has implemented a project to synchronize traffic signals at Fallbrook intersections. Although a signal at Aviation Road would add a traffic light between those at Ammunition Road and at Fallbrook Street, it could be timed in conjunction with the nearby signals. “With another traffic light between those two locations it benefits us,” said Murali Pasumarthi, the traffic engineering manager for the County of San Diego’s Department of Public Works. “It actually helps coordination.”

Coordination with other signals is one of the operational warrants which can justify a traffic signal along with volume and accident warrants. The intersection meets four warrants for a signal.

Although the TAC unanimously voted to place the intersection on the Traffic Signal Priority List, it also recommended signage for Aviation Road, which notifies motorists that Mission Road traffic has the right of way. “The signals are not going to change the behavior of Fallbrook,” California Highway Patrol Oceanside division representative Eric Newbury said of the accidents. “This is driver error.”

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