Lucette Moramarco and Joe Naiman
To the relief, and joy, of many Rainbow residents, the long awaited signal on Old Highway 395 at Rainbow Glen was activated Thursday, Dec. 1. There was talk on the Rainbow Cares Facebook page about holding a celebration.
Here is a timeline for the process the signal creation took:
The Board of Supervisors placed the intersection of Old Highway 395 and Rainbow Glen Road on San Diego County's Traffic Signal Priority List in November 2019.
The decision took into account a July 2018 traffic survey of the intersection of Old Highway 395 and Rainbow Glen Road which counted 5,881 northbound and 2,311 southbound vehicles on Old Highway 395. "It acts as a bypass to Temecula," Supervisor Jim Desmond said.
Rainbow Glen Road had 1,386 eastbound and 1,101 westbound vehicles in that traffic survey. A July 2019 collision at the intersection resulted in one fatality and three other injuries, and the accident rate is more than four times the statewide average for similar intersections.
The anticipated cost including contingency for signals at the five intersections was $4,250,000 at that point. Construction was scheduled to begin in fall 2021 and to be completed by late 2022.
In August 2020, the Board of Supervisors approved the county's fiscal year 2020-21 budget and included $5.1 million for traffic signals at six intersections, including the one in Rainbow. "I'm glad to see it's finally moving forward today," Desmond said.
Normally priority points rather than the length of time an intersection has been on the list will determine the next intersection to be signalized once funding permits, but design readiness issues may allow a lower-ranked intersection to be signalized first as can grant funding for a specific intersection.
The county's Department of Public Works identified a funding source from the county's road fund to allow the Rainbow signal to be installed sooner,
On May 23, 2021, the county supervisors approved the bid and award process for a construction contract to install traffic signals at five intersections in unincorporated San Diego County including the intersection of Old Highway 395 and Rainbow Glen Road and the intersection of South Mission Road and Green Canyon Road. The signals were expected to be operational by spring 2023.
The intersection in Rainbow met both the four-hour vehicular volume warrant and the peak hour volume warrant for a traffic signal. The intersection fell one collision short of the collision warrant for a traffic signal which requires five collisions correctable by a signal within a one-year period, but just those four collisions between June 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, created an accident rate more than four times the statewide average for similar intersections.
Two of those collisions involved injury, and after a July 23, 2019 collision resulted in one fatality along with three injuries, DPW reviewed the intersection to determine if a signal would increase the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
"It has been an ongoing concern to the residents," Desmond said.
Rainbow residents and DPW staff members both cited increasing commuter traffic to Riverside County rather than Rainbow residents as the cause for the increased traffic volume, and the use of Old Highway 395 rather than Interstate 15 is even more prevalent when an accident causes delays on I-15.
Rainbow residents now hope the county can do something about the commuter traffic clogging their streets.