North Gate choices narrowed to one that eliminates left onto Lago for entry traffic

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Published Thursday, January 23, 2003

A new proposed location for the North Gate was announced at the monthly meeting of the Rancho Murieta Association on Tuesday.

The Ad Hoc Gate Committee has recommended the gate design that eliminates the left-hand turn onto Lago Drive from Murieta Parkway. The committee includes members of the RMA and the Community Services District.

The gate location has been the subject of numerous presentations in recent months as the CSD, which is moving ahead with building the new gate, sought input from the public on four proposals.

Fewer than a hundred comments have been received and many of those favored keeping the left turn onto Lago. Others recommended closing Lago to traffic and making it a cul-de-sac.

In the end, the committee recommended Option 2, which closes Lago to left turns but keeps it open as an exit from the community. Architect Chris Davis of R & D Design Solutions said the choice was based on security concerns.

Residents are asked to submit their comments about the recommendation to the RMA board, which will consider the gate location again at its February meeting. The board is expected to take action on the proposal at its March meeting.

Davis said the current plan is to have the new gate in operation by July 2004.

Option 2 includes the following features:

  • Two lanes of traffic for residents
  • One lane devoted to visitors
  • Guard station centered on the Parkway, much as it is now, but farther north to increase queuing to about 40 vehicles and prevent back-ups onto Highway 16.
  • Visual access to Lago Drive and the Gazebo area for security personnel.
  • Visitor parking near the guard station
  • A U-turn for refused traffic that is controlled with a gate arm.
  • Potential options for guests to “check out” with Security
  • Lago Drive stays open as an exit from the community
  • All traffic passes through the gate when entering the community
  • Improved appearance and functionality of the guard station

All four options the committee considered eliminated the left turn from Lago Drive onto the Parkway. Three of the four options had a left-turn lane for entering Lago Drive from the Parkway that could only be used by residents.

The changes at the gate are needed to accommodate growth in the community and to allow stricter scrutiny of visitor traffic by Security, according to CSD General Manager Ed Crouse.

The North Gate wasn’t the only traffic-related matter on the RMA agenda. The board discussed the traffic study produced as part of the county planning process for a proposed development of 238 homes on the North.

The study, which was released last month, was reviewed for the board by transportation engineer Ken Anderson of the firm K D Anderson.

The study (see summary here) measures the impact of the proposed Residences of Murieta Hills development on traffic within the community and outside the community, on Highway 16.

According to the study, traffic on Jackson Road is currently within standards for a two-lane road but it will exceed standards at various intersections with the 238 additional homes, Anderson explained. “I don’t think that’s a tremendous surprise to anyone,” he commented.

Director Paul Gumbinger pointed out that the dramatic change would come to pass with only about 238 homes, just a portion of the 1,100 homes planned for the North, and it doesn’t include the impact of 700 more homes to be built on the South and the 200 homes recently proposed for the commercial site across Highway 16 from Murieta North.

“The limiter on development could be traffic. … As I see it, we as a board and we as a community need to comment on this traffic study to the county, indicating that we want these fee extractions from the developers assigned into a special account to come back to do the improvements where they’re required,” Gumbinger said.

“We need the county in here to show us how they aggregate these projects,” said Director Mike Burnett. “This is only a piece of the puzzle.”

Anderson said the board needed “to inquire what the (traffic mitigation) fee will be. … I think you should express your wishes” to the county.

In fact, many of the directors’ questions and concerns seemed to require answers from county planning and transportation officials.

One of the main concerns is the county’s plans for widening Highway 16, although Anderson pointed out there are other funding sources besides the county for a state highway.

Caltrans has plans to widen the highway from South Watt Avenue to Excelsior Road in the next five to seven years, but no closer than that to Rancho Murieta, a Caltrans spokesman told RanchoMurieta.com in December.

Other matters discussed at the RMA meeting included:

The Communications Committee is increasing its meetings to two a month, on the second and fourth Mondays at 7 a.m. at the RMA Building. This is the third RMA committee to go to a 7 a.m. start time. Maintenance and Finance also begin at 7.

Mike Burnett, the committee chair, said the meeting on the second Monday of the month will be a general meeting while the fourth Monday’s meeting will be focused on specific topics.

The next meeting is this coming Monday and it will deal with budget matters affecting the broadband cable operation. With 300 subscribers, the service is ahead of projections and hitting capacity during peak usage, according to RMA General Manager Greg Vorster. The committee will evaluate options for expanding capacity.

The board approved the expenditure of $5,000 to hire a consultant to draft the first phase of a technology master plan aimed at providing better broadband and cable TV services to the community.

The consultant will also help the board develop a framework for putting a contract for managing the broadband system out for bid. Last year, the contract was awarded to the Murieta Group without a bidding process. RMA efforts to develop a request for proposals have failed, Director Elliot Sevier said.

The board approved the hire of a cable TV technician, a position that’s in the 2003 budget.

The Sheriff’s Department will be allowed to install its own 30-foot pole and antenna at the RMA’s antenna site on Stonehouse Road. The set-up offers Rancho Murieta and the surrounding area more 911 and emergency services coverage at no cost to the RMA, said General Manager Greg Vorster.

Billy Norton of Troop 633, who is working on his Eagle Scout badge, received permission from the board to conduct a book drive in the North to benefit the Elk Grove Library. Bags for book donations will be distributed to residents on Feb. 8 and picked up on Feb.15.

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