Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

TAC recommends speed limits on Little Gopher Canyon Road and Old River Road

Currently neither Little Gopher Canyon Road between Gopher Canyon Road and Old River Road nor Old River Road between state Route 76 and Dentro de Lomas have posted speed limits. If the recommendations of the county’s Traffic Advisory Committee Friday, June 7, are ratified by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the 1.50-mile segment of Little Gopher Canyon Road will have a 30 mph speed limit and the 1.66-mile portion of Old River Road will have a 45 mph speed limit.

The vote to recommend the Little Gopher Canyon Road 30 mph speed limit and to certify that speed limit for radar enforcement was unanimous. Due to a client owning property along the road Justin Schaefli, who is the TAC public member from the Second Supervisorial District, recused himself from the Old River Road 45 mph speed limit and radar certification vote, but no TAC member opposed that recommendation.

The county board of supervisors is scheduled to have a first reading and introduction of the ordinances for the speed limits and radar certification Oct. 9, and the second reading and adoption is scheduled for Oct. 23. If the second reading and adoption is approved that day the speed limits will become enforceable Nov. 22, although the county’s Department of Public Works may erect signage earlier.

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. 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.

Formal speed limits are generally not posted on roads with traffic volumes under 2,000 vehicles per day, although by state law the maximum speed limit for a two-lane road is 55 mph. Traffic volumes only count motor vehicle traffic and not pedestrian, bicycle or equestrian traffic. The TAC noted equestrian activity in the findings to lower the Old River Road speed limit by an additional 5 mph while also making findings of uncommon intersection angles.

A member of the public can request a regulatory change as can a community planning or sponsor group, the county sheriff’s department, California Highway Patrol or DPW. Concerns about equestrian safety led to a November 2023 request to the TAC to consider speed limits on Little Gopher Canyon Road and Old River Road.

Little Gopher Canyon Road is a two-lane undivided highway measuring in width from 18 to 34 feet. The roadway is striped with a double yellow centerline which prohibits passing. Although there is no posted speed limit on Little Gopher Canyon Road it has multiple speed turn advisories, equestrian advisory signs, winding road advisory and road narrows advisory signs.

Little Gopher Canyon Road is not classified in the mobility element of the county’s general plan.

Old River Road is classified as a Light Collector in the general plan’s mobility element and is a two-lane undivided highway between 24 and 28 feet wide. The striping includes a no passing centerline and white edgeline. The posted signs include multiple turn speed advisories, turn warnings, equestrian advisories, intersection advisories and seven-ton truck restrictions.

Two traffic surveys were taken along Little Gopher Canyon Road April 10. The survey 1,460 feet east of Old River Road had 1,252 vehicles consisting of 733 westbound and 519 eastbound ones. The 1,236 drivers 230 feet east of La Primavera Drive included 727 westbound and 509 eastbound motorists.

During the 60-month period from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2023, Little Gopher Canyon Road between Gopher Canyon Road and Old River Road had four reported collisions. Two of those collisions involved an injury and one of those was considered a severe injury. The segment accident rate of 1.18 collisions per million vehicle miles exceeds the statewide average is 1.09 collisions per million vehicle miles for similar flat rural conventional two-lane roads with speed limits of 55 mph or less.

The two traffic surveys along Old River Road were also taken April 10. The survey point 300 feet south of Montrachet Street had 2,227 southbound and 1,148 northbound drivers which totaled 3,375. The 3,198 vehicles 1,100 feet north of Little Gopher Canyon Road involved 2,073 southbound and 1,125 northbound trips.

Between Feb. 1, 2019, and Jan. 31, 2024, Old River Road from Highway 76 to Dentro de Lomas had 15 reported collisions, including six with at least one injury and two with severe injuries, for an accident rate of 1.51 collisions per million vehicle miles. The statewide average for similar suburban conventional two-lane roads with speed limits between 45 mph and 55 mph is 1.24 collisions per million vehicle miles.

Vista Palomar Riders member David Dollahon noted that equestrians must cross Old River Road to access the parking lot.

“This is a dangerous situation,” he said. “You need a lower speed limit, 45 mph at least, through the intersection.”

Speed surveys on Little Gopher Canyon Road were taken 230 feet east of La Primavera Drive May 14, between 10:26 a.m. and 12:26 p.m., and 1,460 feet east of Old River Road May 15, from 11:07 a.m. to 1:07 p.m. The 81 drivers 230 feet east of La Primavera Drive had an 85th percentile speed of 36.4 mph with 75% of those within a 10 mph pace of 30-39 mph. One driver was traveling at 47 mph and the next-fastest motorist crossed the survey point at 41 mph. Two vehicles at 23 mph were the slowest.

The most common speed was 33 mph with 16 drivers while eight drivers apiece were traveling at 32 mph and 31 mph. The 85th percentile for the 68 drivers 1,460 feet east of Old River Road was 32.4 mph with 87% in a 25-34 mph pace. The fastest motorist was driving at 37 mph, the slowest speed was 20 mph, and the most common speeds were 30 mph with 16 vehicles and 33 mph with 11 drivers. The speed zone for the combined segments was 34.4 mph with 81% of drivers within a 28-37 mph pace.

Both Old River Road speed surveys were taken April 10. The one 1,100 feet north of Gopher Canyon Road was taken from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and measured 159 vehicles with an 85th percentile speed of 50.5 mph and a 10 mph pace of 39-48 mph which included 60% of the drivers. A vehicle at 58 mph was the fastest and a driver traveling at 29 mph was the slowest. The most common speeds were 46 mph with 16 vehicles, 48 mph with 12 motorists and 45 mph and 47 mph with 10 drivers apiece.

The speed survey 300 feet south of Montrachet Street was taken between 1:40 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. and counted 171 vehicles whose 85th percentile speed was 52.3 mph with 64% within a 45-54 mph pace. The fastest motorist drove at 63 mph and the slowest vehicle was measured at 31 mph. The most common speeds were 49 mph with 17 drivers, 48 mph with 16 motorists and 50 mph with 14 vehicles. The 85th percentile for the speed zone involving the two Old River Road survey points was 51.4 mph and 62% of the drivers were within a 42-51 mph pace.

If a road design or other non-regulatory solution is recommended, county board of supervisors approval is needed only for a construction contract exceeding the amount DPW can spend without a county board of supervisors’ action.

“The conversation can continue on operational improvements,” TAC secretary Kenton Jones said.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001

 

Reader Comments(0)