Village News Reporter
The county’s Traffic Advisory Committee has recommended a 45 mph speed limit for the San Diego County portion of Pala Temecula Road where there currently is not a posted speed limit.
A unanimous voice vote at the Friday, Dec. 9, TAC meeting recommended the 45 mph speed limit for the 4.51-mile segment from Nejo Road to the Riverside County line. The TAC also recommended that the speed limit be certified for radar enforcement.
For a speed limit to be enforceable by radar, a speed survey must show that the speed limit is within an adjacent 5 mph increment to the 85th percentile speed. The speed limit may be rounded either up or down from the 85th percentile speed. The speed limit may also be rounded down an additional 5 mph if findings are made that the road has conditions which would not be apparent to a motorist unfamiliar with the road. The TAC made findings of a collision rate higher than the statewide average for similar roads to justify the additional 5 mph reduction.
If speed surveys are taken at more than one location along a reviewed segment a “speed zone” for the entirety of the speed surveys can be used. Speed surveys along Pala Temecula Road were taken at six locations in May.
“This body could consider creating a uniform speed limit,” TAC secretary Kenton Jones said.
The 45 mph speed limit would also make the portion of Pala Temecula Road north of Nejo Road consistent with the segment from Trujillo Road to Nejo Road, which currently has a 45 mph speed limit. Currently Pala Temecula Road from Nejo Road to the county line has no posted speed limit, although by state law the maximum allowable speed on a two-lane road is 55 mph. The road also has numerous curve advisory speed signs.
Pala Temecula Road is a striped two-lane undivided highway with a pavement width varying from 24 to 32 feet. The mobility element of the county’s general plan classifies Pala Temecula Road as a light collector. The roadway is striped with a double yellow centerline prohibiting passing and a white edgeline.
Three traffic surveys along Pala Temecula Road were conducted May 10. The 10,234 vehicles 100 feet north of Nogales Road consisted of 5,965 northbound and 4,269 southbound motorists. The survey 200 feet south of Arouba Road had 5,625 northbound and 3,849 southbound drivers for a total of 9,474. The 9,867 motorists 200 feet south of the county line drove 5,804 southbound and 4,063 northbound vehicles.
During the 36-month period from Aug. 1, 2019, to July 31, 2022, Pala Temecula Road between Nejo Road and the Riverside County line had 87 reported collisions including 53 of which involved at least one injury and one with a fatality. The rate of 1.79 collisions per million vehicle miles exceeds the statewide average of 1.61 collisions per million vehicle miles for similar rural mountain conventional two-lane roads with speed limits less than or equal to 55 mph.
A May 4 speed survey taken at Sibimooat Circle measured 161 drivers whose 85th percentile speed was 54.8 mph with 62% within a 10 mph pace of 45-54 mph. Another May 4 speed survey was taken 700 feet north of Mile Post 2.0, and the 158 motorists had an 85th percentile of 53.1 mph with 66% in a 43-52 mph pace.
The May 12 survey 200 feet south of Arouba Road had 130 motorists with an 85th percentile speed of 51.5 mph and a pace of 43-52 mph. The May 12 survey 1,165 feet north of Mile Post 3.5 had an 85th percentile speed of 47.6 mph for the 150 vehicles whose pace was 40-49 mph.
A May 18 survey 450 feet south of Temepa Road had an 85th percentile of 52.2 mph for 161 drivers and a pace of 43-52 mph. The 153 vehicles in the May 18 survey 1,400 feet north of Rancho Heights Road had an 85th percentile of 49.0 mph and the pace was 42‑51 mph. The six locations created a speed zone 85th percentile of 51.4 mph with a pace of 42-51 mph.
Any regulatory change recommended by the TAC must be ratified by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. The county’s Department of Public Works expects the county board of supervisors to hear the proposed Pala Temecula Road speed limit in early April.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].