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TAC recommends 30 mph speed limit for Fifth Street

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Fifth Street in Rainbow currently has no posted speed limit other than a 25 mph school zone near Vallecitos Elementary School so, if roadway conditions are safe, drivers may travel up to 55 mph on the street. The county’s Traffic Advisory Committee has recommended a 30 mph speed limit for Fifth Street between Old Highway 395 and Rainbow Valley Boulevard.

The unanimous TAC vote March 10 sends the recommendation to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. The county supervisors are expected to hear the recommendation June 28. Approval of the first reading and introduction of the speed limit ordinance on June 28 would result in the second reading and adoption being scheduled for July 19.

If the ordinance is adopted July 19, the speed limit would become enforceable Aug. 18, although the county’s Department of Public Works could install signage earlier.

“I think 30 is appropriate,” said Justin Schlaefli, who is the TAC’s public member for the Second Supervisorial District.

In order 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 and Fifth Street use by nursery vehicles to justify the additional 5 mph reduction.

Fifth Street between Old Highway 395 and Rainbow Valley Boulevard measures 0.64 miles. It is a two-lane road and has a pavement width of 26 feet. The road has a two-way left turn lane and white edge line striping.

The mobility element of the county’s general plan classifies Fifth Street as a Light Collector. The Dec. 9 TAC meeting recommended an all-way stop at Fifth Street and Huffstatler Street, and that is expected to become enforceable during late spring.

An Oct. 11, 2022, traffic survey addressed both the all-way stop and the speed limit. The vehicular traffic approaching the intersection consisted of 2,174 eastbound and 645 westbound vehicles on Fifth Street and 269 northbound and 136 southbound motorists on Huffstatler Street. The traffic survey 500 feet east of Huffstatler Street produced an average daily volume of 2,163 vehicles consisting of 1,600 eastbound and 563 westbound motorists

The largest afternoon hourly volumes were 482 drivers between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and 398 motorists between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. while the largest morning hourly volumes were 135 vehicles between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 118 drivers between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

The traffic volume in conjunction with two reported collisions during the 36-month period from Nov. 1, 2019, to Oct. 31, 2022, produces a collision rate of 1.32 per million vehicle miles. The statewide average for similar flat rural two-lane roads with speed limits less than or equal to 55 mph is 1.09 collisions per million vehicle miles.

“The collision rate is above statewide average,” said TAC secretary Kenton Jones.

The speed survey was taken 400 feet west of Huffstatler Street on Jan. 19. DPW began counting traffic at 10:42 a.m. and concluded at 12:50 p.m. The 65 vehicles had an 85th percentile of 37.3 mph, and 69% of those drivers were within a 10 mph pace of 27-36 mph. The most common speeds were 36 mph with 14 drivers and 31 mph with six motorists. The fastest driver crossed the survey point at 42 mph while the slowest vehicle was traveling at 23 mph.

Fifth Street also has dip advisory signs, and in times of bad weather or other hazards a motorist driving at the legal speed limit may still be cited for driving too fast for conditions. “We know what’s happened on Fifth Street during flooding,” Jones said.


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