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MARK SPEROS, San Juan Capistrano
The River Street project, for all the promise of additional sales-tax revenues and revitalizing our downtown, ignores a simple truth: The resulting traffic it must create results in gridlock that may paralyze the entire downtown! I would strongly encourage every resident to actually walk the property around 5 or 6 p.m. and consider the following:
- If a tractor trailer (or even large truck) were making a delivery, how could it possibly access the site? It’s too tight a turn to make it on Los Rios (heaven forbid a car coming down the narrow Los Rios Street and prohibiting a truck from completing its turn … while straddling the railroad tracks … when a train comes). Paseo Adelanto is a better choice, but with 300 cars coming in and out (along with all those businesses fronting Del Obispo directly to the south also creating traffic of their own), that street will be packed.
- Ghost Train—Spend any time at that intersection, especially during rush hour, and you’ll notice that not only do the railroad crossing gates close frequently for the still-unresolved “ghost train” crossings … but the additional RR-only dedicated traffic signals now stop traffic on their own accord, for no reason. What happens when a large truck is trying to negotiate access through Los Rios and the crossing gates go down?
- Gridlock—Mornings and evenings, Camino Capistrano and Del Obispo are completely gridlocked. Between all the schools, businesses and railroad crossings (real and ghost), it’s very common to sit in place without moving a car length at 5 p.m. through multiple traffic light cycles.
In reading through the city’s staff report, the traffic impact of the addition of 65,000 square feet of retail, 300 cars (and who knows how many delivery vehicles) is being deliberately minimized. Yes, the TR-2 section (traffic) of the Mitigation Monitoring Requirements mentions very minor revisions to Paseo Adelanto (restriping), but that road is not nearly wide enough to accommodate the anticipated traffic … and zero mention is made of the impact it will have along all of Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano. The response listed on page 2-65 R5-1 of the EIR is very limited on the viewpoint and suggested improvements.
At least with the Citibank—soon-to-be Chick-fil-A—application, there was some consideration of vehicular access on and off of Del Obispo, but this was for a single restaurant.
To avoid this project being the tipping point, I would encourage the city to consider this project in a broader focus, such as:
- Requiring a broader traffic study to be conducted (during peak rush hour times) to accurately measure what the current traffic volume is for a half-mile in all directions from the intersection of Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano—and what the proposed, additional traffic would do to that flow. It should be mandated to coincide with the most active RR crossing time.
- Inclusion of a requirement that the Ghost Train issue be resolved prior to the start of construction.
- Boxing out the RR crossing area in paint to make it extra clear to residents and visitors to “Keep area clear.”
- Prohibiting tractor-trailers from turning right on Del Rios, lest they block traffic and/or get hit by a train.
- Requiring the synchronization of traffic signals on both Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano through the entire downtown area to move traffic more smoothly through the city.
- Enlarging Paseo Adelanto to allow for a much longer left-hand turn lane, while also providing a wider inbound lane for truck traffic. Also eliminating any curbside parking for its entire northern length to free up flow into and out of the proposed site.
Hopefully, this prompts additional discussion and consideration.