See the first draft of the North Gate traffic design
The Rancho Murieta Association’s determination to keep the left turn onto Lago Drive is the driving force in the new traffic design for the North Gate. RMA General Manager Nick Arther said engineers for the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers had opposed the turn but came up with a design that a Maintenance Committee member called “not a lot different from what we have now” to accommodate the RMA’s insistence. Although the Community Services District Security Committee saw the plan last week and found it lacking, the RMA Maintenance Committee voted Monday to recommend the plan to the RMA board.
The RMA owns the gate and CSD Security operates it. The PTF, owners of most of the undeveloped land in Rancho Murieta, will fund the relocation and remodel of the North Gate with $1.4 million that’s available under the terms of the Mutual Benefit Agreement signed with the RMA.
It’s not the first time RMA has insisted on keeping the turn.
In 2003, the board declined to vote on a recommendation from a joint RMA/CSD ad hoc committee for a gate design option that eliminated the turn, and the committee was disbanded. The committee had proposed eliminating the left on Lago for safety reasons and to decrease traffic on Lago and Pera, two streets that were estimated to receive 30 percent of gate traffic. The design sent to the PTF last year, and worked into the current plan, was passed over by the ad hoc committee in 2003.
The design the RMA board voted to send to the PTF last year was approved by the board in 2005. It calls for moving the guard building up Murieta Parkway past the intersection with Lago Drive to provide more stacking room for vehicles entering the community from Highway 16, has two lanes for residents proceeding up the parkway, a visitors' lane, and a dedicated left turn on Lago for residents.
Arther described the PTF’s reaction to the plan at the Maintenance Committee meeting Monday morning and how the RMA prevailed.
“They, being the engineers, being PTF, being the people that own the dirt that’s going to be involved in buildout, all of the people that are looking at this thing down the road kept saying it’s not going to work because you’re going to have too much traffic and I think they’ve done two, possibly three traffic studies that substantiate that argument,” Arther said. “ ... We were out there with the traffic people saying, ‘no, no, no, we gotta have left turn, left turn, left turn.’ And they came back with traffic this and traffic this, we’re traffic engineers and yada, yada, yada. What we were saying was basically falling on deaf ears.
“So this is the plan they’ve come up with. I personally like a lot of the things they’ve done with it.”
The PTF design moves the guard building a shorter distance -- about 30 feet from its present location -- and eliminates the residents-only Lago turn lane, replacing it with a U-turn configuration for two lanes of resident and visitor traffic.
The lane closest to the guard building is a left-turn-only lane, the interior lane can go left or up the parkway, and the right lane goes straight up the parkway, Arther said.
As with the current Lago turn, traffic headed out of the community on the Parkway would have a stop sign. The two lanes of U-turn traffic would have the right of way.
“Nobody will be able to get out coming down Murieta Parkway,” one of the committee members remarked.
“It’s a lot wider, it’s a lot more efficient,” Arther said. “It’s like I said, I’d rather get this done than nothing done.”
Arther said he liked what he believed were pavers indicated for the area around the guard building. “It’s going to add a lot of pizazz to the gate,” he said.
Chair Randy Jenco focused on maintenance issues, saying he was concerned about pavers, and making sure the gate is built the way RMA wants, with “whatever’s going to work best for us.”
Arther said he expects more specifics from PTF representatives this week, including costs and the RMA share. “When we say go, they should start building,” Arther said.
Jenco, who initially said he was concerned about changing a plan it had taken a long time to decide on, said, “Well, I gotta be honest with you. After staring at this for 15 or 20 minutes I kind of like it.”
“That’s basically what we got now,” Arther said.
The committee didn’t mention conferring with the CSD on the plan and voted 3-1 to recommend it to the board.
Committee member Steve Murray, who cast the dissenting vote, said he wasn’t satisfied with the concept. He had expressed concern about the U-turn lanes creating a traffic choke point on Murieta Parkway.
Arther encouraged the vote to “keep the ball rolling. ... Once we agree, they say we’re 60 days away from starting.”
Previous coverage, including studies