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TAC recommends signal for South Mission/Pepper Tree

The county’s Traffic Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend placing the intersection of South Mission Road and Pepper Tree Lane on the county’s Traffic Signal Priority List.

The TAC’s August 27 vote sends the recommendation to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who are scheduled to address the matter October 20. Although the Fallbrook Community Planning Group opposed placing the signal on the list, the planning group’s rationale was that development near the intersection would likely pay for the signal and that other Fallbrook intersections merited higher priority.

“It was not the appropriate timing to consider a signal,” said Anne Burdick, who represented the Fallbrook Community Planning Group at the TAC meeting.

Staff from the county’s Department of Public Works noted that placing an intersection on the Traffic Signal Priority List does not translate into a commitment for the county to construct that signal but that placing an intersection on the list is the first step towards an eventual signal. Placing an intersection on the Traffic Signal Priority List also allows future development to be assessed for its fair share payment for future traffic signals at intersections which will be used by the development.

“Having the signal on the priority list will allow us to collect fair shares,” said Murali Pasumarthi, the traffic engineering manager for the Department of Public Works.

South Mission Road is approximately 81 feet wide at its intersection with Pepper Tree Lane with edge striping along both sides of the roadway. South Mission Road is classified as a Major Road on the county’s Circulation Element map, and South Mission Road near Pepper Tree Lane has a 35 mph speed limit which has been certified for radar enforcement. An April 2010 traffic survey indicated an average daily traffic volume of 13,610 southbound vehicles north of Pepper Tree Lane and 13,050 northbound vehicles south of Pepper Tree Lane.

Pepper Tree Lane terminates at South Mission Road and measures approximately 50 feet in length. A stop control is augmented with limit lines and pavement legends to notify the westbound traffic that through traffic on South Mission Road has the right-of-way. Pepper Tree Road is classified as a Light Collector on the county’s Circulation Element map, and the road does not have a posted speed limit. The site distance from Pepper Tree Lane looking onto South Mission Road is at least 550 feet in each direction. The April 2010 traffic survey indicated an average daily traffic volume of 3,310 westbound vehicles east of South Mission Road.

Burdick notes that Pepper Tree Lane currently serves only 54 houses and that much of the traffic is from a commercial shopping center at the intersection with Mission Road. “The volume was astounding,” she said.

An eventual extension of Pepper Tree Lane will connect the two existing non-contiguous segments. Burdick noted that the development conditions could include a signal at the intersection, as could the redevelopment of a commercial area near the intersection.

During the five-year period covering May 31, 2005, to May 31, 2010, the intersection had five reported collisions, one of which resulted in injury. The accident rate of 0.09 per million vehicles compares favorably with the statewide rate of 0.19 per million vehicles for similar suburban intersections.

The intersection meets four volume, safety, and operational warrants for a traffic signal. “The requirements for a signal are met for this intersection,” Pasumarthi said.

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