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Despite requests from community organizations, the state Department of Transportation says it won’t reduce the Highway 16 speed limit from 55 to 45 mph in the Rancho Murieta area. Nonetheless, county Supervisor Sue Frost says she will look into an appeal of the decision or legislation to make it happen.

In an April 9 letter to the Rancho Murieta Association, Caltrans District Director Amarjeet S. Benipal said a “traffic safety investigation” was done in February between Dillard and Ione roads, and he offered these reasons for not making the requested change:

  • The investigation found “a concentration of collisions” on Jackson Road between the gates, which is already striped for no passing and has a center rumble strip. But from Kiefer Boulevard to Murieta Parkway, the overall collision rate was below average.
  • Caltrans is initiating a project to trim several trees and clear brush to improve the sight lines for westbound drivers approaching the North Gate and to potentially reduce deer accidents there.
  • The flashing light warning eastbound drivers approaching the North Gate will be relocated to give more warning, a project slated for 2020. 
  • The California Vehicle Code sets speed limits – generally, 55 mph for a two-lane undivided highway. Caltrans is prohibited from lowering a speed limit without the support of an engineering and traffic survey.

Benipal’s letter – which you can download here – suggests Murietans call the CHP and ask for more enforcement of speed limits and passing restrictions between the gates.

The letter was shared by General Manager Greg Vorster at Tuesday night’s RMA board meeting. RMA Director Joanne Brandt had joined neighbor Nancy Miller in the effort to get the speed limit reduced earlier this year. Miller has been pushing for the change since mid-2016.

Brandt presented Miller’s findings on Jackson Road accidents at the February RMA meeting, and the board unanimously voted to write a letter of support. Miller spoke at the Community Services District meeting last month, and that board voted to do the same.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, after Vorster shared the Caltrans letter, Brandt said the planned work would make Highway 16 safer, and she thanked everyone involved for the work they’d done. “I think it was worth the effort,” she said.

On Wednesday morning, Miller, the neighbor who has been after the change since 2016, and Frost, the county supervisor, made clear that they will continue the fight.

"I am deeply disappointed in the response from Caltrans,” said a statement from Frost, who was in Washington, D.C., on business, “but I don't want to stop the fight here. I would like to see the decision either appealed, or look into appealing to our state legislators to author legislation that would allow Caltrans to consider the special circumstances in Rancho Murieta when setting the speed limit."

Her chief of staff, Matt Hedges, was the legislative director for a Southern California lawmaker in 2014, when they got a state law enacted that allowed special consideration for speed limits in the equestrian community of Orange Park Acres in Orange County.

Rancho Murieta has seen such legislation before. In 2003, a law was enacted to give community residents the right to drive golf carts across Jackson Road. For all the decades before then, they’d been doing it illegally, it turned out.

Upon learning of the Caltrans decision, Miller got back into emailing mode, peppering Caltrans officials with her thoughts and writing to RanchoMurieta.com: “I would think with the number of recorded accidents, Caltrans would be looking out for our citizens.” She added, “I look forward to continuing my dialog with those with knowledge at Caltrans and greatly appreciate the amazing outpouring of support by RM citizens, Assemblyman Cooley’s office and Supervisor Frost’s office.”

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417

55 moh

No one drives 55. I don't know how you could get them to drive 45. 

John Hein

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

Speed limits

I agree John.  From what I've seen, most people drive about 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit.  I figured, if the speed limit was dropped to 45, they would drive 55 vs. 65  :-)

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417

Foothill drivers

Beth, I've been driving Jackson Highway to Sunrise for 25 years in each direction and typically the "speeders" are neighboring community foothill drivers, late to school or work. You could be correct that it may slow them to 55 mph if the limit was 45 mph but I seriously doubt it. The things we RM commuters see on the road are unbelievable.

John Hein

Patty St Pierre's picture
Joined: 09/19/2012
Posts: 7
Post rating: 3

Foothill Drivers

Heck, no one drives 25 in RM...I get tail-gated on a daily basis...I usually just pull over to the right and let them pass, but sometimes I can't...I get passed by speeders at the North gate...and I always wonder if they are getting tickets.  It's hard to drive 25, believe me, but I don't want a ticket...they are costly.

Patty St Pierre

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417


It's beyond ridiculous inside the gates! It's stupid impatience.

John Hein

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