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Leaders review plan for roads

RANCHO SANTA FE — A transportation plan developed by the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, was presented Nov. 20 to the Rancho Santa Fe Association board of directors. The Regional Transportation Plan, or RTP, provided a comprehensive vision for transit and transportation throughout San Diego County but projects in North County that may influence Covenant traffic patterns were highlighted.
Heather Werdick, senior transportation planner for SANDAG, gave the presentation, which provided insights and strategies that extend to the year 2030. Plans include the widening of Highway 56, Highway 56 to I-5 transition ramps, I-5 managed lanes and widening, and I-15 managed lanes and widening. SANDAG expects to receive $57 billion to accomplish these lofty goals.
Association President Lois Jones asked how SANDAG is able to get the funding for the projects. Werdick said the money comes from a variety of places including gas tax, parking fees and state and federal taxes.
By the year 2030, the topography of North County will have changed significantly. Werdick said that more than 1 million new residents are expected in the county, along with 300 more housing development projects and a half a million new jobs. Baby boomers will be senior citizens. To accommodate this growth and demographic change, the RTP is implementing smart growth principles to better connect transportation with land use.
“It’s all about highways,” Director Bill Beckman said. “There’s not much mention of mass transit.”
Director Steve Shillington asked if there were any plans to have trains that go directly to the airport. Werdick said that the idea was ruled out in the 1990s, but that they are taking another look at it. According to Werdick, nothing definite for mass transit or airport links is in the works for North County.
In other association news, Manager Pete Smith announced that votes have been counted and the recent bylaw amendment passed. Out of 1,221 ballots received, 875 voted in favor of any time or money spent toward the study of incorporation being approved by a majority of voting members.
The board of directors also authorized the use of $500,000 of Open Space funds to reduce the Osuna property principal loan amount. The Osuna Ranch was purchased in June 2006 for approximately $12 million. Since then funds have been spent yearly to reduce the principal. After this payment of $500,000, the existing loan will be about $2.7 million. The loan was also renegotiated and the interest rate was reduced from 6.725 percent to 5.5 percent.
The board also approved the updated text for Chapters 41, 44, and 45 of the Regulatory Code. At the Oct. 2 board of directors meeting, the board approved the updates and authorized all three chapters to be mailed to the entire membership for review. After a second reading and public hearing was granted, the board voted unanimously to approve the updated text.
Director Tom Lang reported that the Road and Traffic Committee is exploring a heightened use of busing during the upcoming school renovation. “We’re very concerned about this,” he said. The committee is working with the school district to resolve these concerns for safety and potential traffic problems.
Longtime Ranch resident Virginia Dewey asked the board to look into the persistent parking problems occurring in front of the library along Avenida de Acacias. Her request was duly noted.
The next Association board meeting is set for Dec. 4.

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