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Supervisors approve funding, bid process for pedestrian crossing improvements

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved appropriations and the bid and award process for pedestrian crossing improvements at 21 signalized intersections throughout the unincorporated county including four in Fallbrook.

A pair of 4-0 votes March 13, with Joel Anderson absent, approved two actions to appropriate funds and authorize the advertisement for bid and subsequent award of construction contracts for the improvements.

One of those actions covered four intersections including the South Mission Road intersections at Alvarado Street and at Clemmens Lane while the other will provide improvements at 17 intersections including Fallbrook Street at the Heald Lane and Stage Coach Lane intersections.

The county’s Traffic Advisory Committee makes recommendations on signals, stop controls, speed limits, and other regulatory matters although the Board of Supervisors must approve any regulatory changes.

The September 2020 TAC meeting included the introduction of the county’s Local Roadway Safety Plan which created a framework for organizing stakeholders to identify, analyze, and prioritize roadway safety improvements on county-maintained roads.

The plan focused on identifying crash problems and roadway risk factors and providing potential countermeasures. The plan will also be a critical component in the county's attempt to obtain grant funding.

LLG Engineering analyzed the county's traffic collision data between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2019. During the five-year period, 16,245 collisions including 160 with at least one fatality and 683 with at least one severe injury were reported on roads under jurisdiction of the county.

A roadway safety plan tends to integrate the four e's of roadway safety: engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency response. The 23 community planning groups and community sponsor groups were stakeholders in developing the Local Roadway Safety Plan as were representatives from various county departments covering roads, planning, health, law enforcement, and emergency response.

The database details included date and time, location, type of collision, collision severity, California Vehicle Code violations, weather, roadway conditions, safety equipment, responsible party information, and victim information.

The collisions included only those on county roads and not unincorporated community collisions on private roads, state or Interstate highways under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans off-ramps, or intersections under the jurisdiction of Caltrans.

A September 2022 Board of Supervisors meeting included approval of the Local Roadway Safety Plan for unincorporated San Diego County. That action adopted the findings of the plan but did not take any implementation actions. The plan includes ranked intersections and road segments recommended for improvement.

The county also identified potential grant funding sources including the Highway Safety Improvement Program. The HSIP is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by each state, so the California Department of Transportation provides grants to design and construct improvements which are expected to achieve a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on public roads.

The county obtained two separate HSIP grants. One covered the four intersections in Fallbrook and Spring Valley while the other covered the other 17 intersections including the Fallbrook Street intersections.

The contract for the 17 intersections including the two Fallbrook Street intersections will install pedestrian countdown signal heads and accessible pedestrian signal push buttons at the 17 intersections. A countdown signal head shows pedestrians how much time is left to cross a roadway safely, which allows pedestrians to make better decisions about whether to start crossing during the current green light.

An accessible pedestrian signal pushbutton is an integrated device which communicates the WALK and DON’T WALK intervals at signalized intersections in non-visual formats such as audible tones and tactile surfaces to pedestrians who are blind or have low vision, and an audio beacon indicating that the DON’T WALK phase has changed to the WALK phase can be heard.

Based on nationwide history, pedestrian countdown signal heads at a signalized intersection can be expected to result in a 25% reduction in collisions involving pedestrians while audible and tactile push buttons are also expected to reduce collisions involving pedestrians by 25%.

A $249,600 HSIP grant for the 17 intersections along with a $326,507 balance in the county’s road fund will allow for the $576,107 budget which includes a 15% contingency in the event of unforeseen conditions. The appropriations into the 2023-24 budget were necessary due to expected expenditures of $337,226 during the current fiscal year.

The intersections of South Mission Road and Alvarado Street, South Mission Road and Clemmens Lane, Sweetwater Road and Troy Street in Spring Valley, and Jamacha Road and Elkelton Road in Spring Valley were the only four signalized intersections in the unincorporated county with severe injury or fatality collisions involving pedestrians during the five-year period from January 2015 to December 2019.

(The only fatality was at Sweetwater Road and Troy Street; each of the South Mission Road intersections had one severe injury and one other complaint of pain.)

The two Spring Valley intersections will be given high-visibility crosswalks along with pedestrian countdown signal heads and accessible pedestrian signal pushbuttons.

The Fallbrook intersections, which already have high-visibility crosswalk markings, will have new curb ramps as well as the pedestrian countdown signal heads and accessible pedestrian signal pushbuttons.

The total estimated cost for the improvements to those four intersections is $958,554 including $530,736 which was added to the 2023-24 budget. The HSIP grant will fund $567,630 while the road fund balance will provide the other $390,924.

The March 13 actions for the 21 intersections authorized the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to take the necessary actions to award the contracts and designated the director of the county’s Department of Public Works as the county officer responsible for administering the contracts.

After the contracts are advertised for bid and awarded, construction on a countywide basis is expected to begin in June 2024 and be complete by August 2024.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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