With just months before the new Jackson Avenue-Ynez Road bridge is scheduled to open, creating another link between Murrieta to Temecula, some residents are asking the City of Murrieta not to forget about pedestrian safety.
Some 80 residents of Murrieta’s Creekside Village neighborhood signed a petition in an effort to get a crosswalk and all-way stop signs or a traffic signal installed at Jackson and Allison avenues. The intersection is where a school bus drops off children, many of whom walk across the street to the Sam’s Club shopping center before going home, says the resident who started the petition, Cora Dotimas-Castillo.
The current speed on that section of Jackson is 55 mph.
Dotimas-Castillo told Patch she became concerned about the issue when she saw a child nearly get struck by a car. Once the bridge is complete and more motorists begin using the roadway to travel between the two cities, she envisions the problem getting worse.
“I myself witnessed it,” Dotimas-Castillo said. “That’s when I promised myself that I would do something and that is why I started the petition.”
Murrieta Traffic Commissioner Kurt Kunkel took her up on an offer to come out and observe the intersection.
“Right now the current traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, may not warrant a stop sign or the crosswalk,” Kunkel told Patch. “However, working with Cora here we know there is going to be a lot more traffic coming through with the extension of Jackson to Ynez...The bridge is a positive thing but there are challenges that come with it.”
City Engineer Bob Moehling acknowledged receipt of the petition, and said city staff discussed the intersection with the Traffic Commission during an Oct. 16, 2013 meeting.
Commissioners learned from Traffic Engineer Brian Stephenson that the section of Jackson Avenue in question is currently classified as a major roadway, which is why the speed limit is 55 mph. He also noted that because Sam’s Club was built before the Creekside Village tract, there are currently no sidewalks installed along the Sam’s Club driveway. If a crosswalk were installed there, Stephenson said pedestrians would end up in traffic lanes within the Sam’s Club shopping center.
An immediate outcome of that meeting was a staff recommendation that City Council reduce the speed limit on that section of Jackson from 55 mph to 45 mph, Moehling wrote, in an emailed response to Patch.
The recommendation is included in a speed ordinance update for 34 total locations within the city, Moehling said. A public hearing regarding the issue is scheduled to take place as part of the Jan. 21 City Council meeting.
Moehling said based on the data collected for the Jackson Avenue segment, and if the Council agrees, the speed limit would be reduced to 45 mph—consistent with the current speed limit of 45 mph within the City of Temecula where Jackson will connect with Ynez.
Additionally, the intersection at Sam’s Club will be reanalyzed once the bridge is opened, he said. Barring any large weather events or setbacks, he said that should by the end of July.
Another concern of the residents, that the greenery along the center median of Jackson creates a blind spot for motorists, was also addressed. City staff agreed to keep the landscaping trimmed and install signs alerting drivers of the approaching intersection.
It was also suggested that city staff share the residents’ concerns about the safety of the school bus stop with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District. A crossing guard would not be warranted, city staff said, because the children exit the bus where there are sidewalks, near the entrance to the neighborhood.