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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

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

Your thoughts about this?

In the last week we've heard from CSD and RMA committees about this plan to relocate the North Gate.  (RMA committee favors it, CSD committee doesn't.  RMA owns the gate, CSD operates it.)  The plan is going to the RMA board, and the RMA's general manager is encouraging swift action.  He says work can begin in 60 days.

What do you think?

John Friedrich's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 20
Post rating: 27

New gate questions

The new gate proposal seems to improve traffic congestion extending on Highway 16 AND provide a resident lane for those turning left on Lago.  So it seems like a win-win there, but I wonder if we set up a possible dangerous situation with merging cars. With the current gate,  I have seen many near collisions(no actual ones) with single cars turning left on Pera in front of southbound Murieta parkway drivers.  With the new gate it looks like we could have two cars U turning at the same time, or even worse, the inside car wanting to go straight while the outside car wants to U turn.   Is there a provision that keeps cars on the inside two lanes from entering the parkway at the same time, kind of like meters on onramps to the freeway?  I also assume that those coming down Lago toward Murieta parkway will not be able to left toward the RMA building.  They will have to reroute the other direction.  A minor inconvenience, but one all the same.  But will golf carts be allowed to take the pedestrian/bicycle crossing just in front of the gate?  I can see some potential problems there as well. 

John Friedrich

Blake Carmichael's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 278
Post rating: 434

to this untrained eye...

Wasn't really sure we could make a mess out of a mess. But it appears we were able to do so.

Are there any examples of double u-turn lanes in the region that could be used for comparison sake? And do those in existence have such short merging zones?

Residents that take the left on Lago in the new plan (using the proposed middle lane) will have to be very cognizent of what is going on in the visitor lane (i.e., is the gate is lifting, and/or is the visitor gunning it to go straight). Otherwise, I'm guessing a few fender benders are going to happen.

The lack of a left onto the Parkway from Lago is also a bit of a head scratcher. I realize that there is not much to access between the gate and the RMA building. However, lower Lago will become a major artery, similar to Guadalupe...neither is a great option for speeders given the elevations and turns on both roads. I don't condone speeding on the parkway either, but it's "safer" since no homes are located there (and therefore fewer kids, bikes etc). For that reason alone, I think the no turn onto the Parkway from Lago is a stinker at best.

Is there a reason that a Left on Lago can't be incorporated prior ot the relocated gate (between the new gate location and Hwy 16). That would easily be viewable from the guard shack (and/or a camera). Then we'd have only two lanes of traffic pass by the gate (one visitor check in lane, and a resident lane). Both would travel up the parkway, and queuing should not be an issue since left on Lago folks won't jam up the visitor lane. Sure, visitors can't take the left onto Lago, but that's up to the home owner to get their visitors to navigate the streets.

Such are my initial thoughts.

Martha Glunt's picture
Joined: 07/29/2007
Posts: 192
Post rating: 421

Really, Nick? You said this?

 Arther said. “It’s like I said, I’d rather get this done than nothing done.”

That scares the hell out of me.

RMA BOD, I urge you to read what your neighbors are saying here and at murietaonline about this proposed plan.  I would also caution you to watch what else is getting done because, apparently, the GM this doing something (even if it's a bad idea) is better than doing nothing.


Blake Carmichael's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 278
Post rating: 434


Okay, I may have answered one of my own questions by reading more carefully above.

I overlooked the mention that the visitor lane (next to the proposed gate location) is a "Left Only" Lane. Then the middle resident lane can either go left or straight. If that is correct, then the demolition derby between visitors trying to go straight (not allowed?)  and residents making the left onto Lago is not an issue. However, the merging of those two lanes into one, and then competing for space with Southbound MP traffic is still going to be pretty darn challenging.


Seems it would make far more sense to move the gate further North, eliminate that bottleneck altogether, and have all visitor traffic move up the parkway, while residents make the left only.

Again, this from the untrained eye of a guy who has not been to meetings where much of this likely was discussed.

Scott Robertson's picture
Joined: 10/10/2007
Posts: 4
Post rating: 7

 Blake - admittedly coming

 Blake - admittedly coming from one untrained eye to another, I think you're on to something.  Why not simply move the gate to the right (south) and make it more similar to our south gate access.  One visitor lane on the right and two resident lanes left of the gate house.  The far left lane would be a left turn only onto Lago and the middle lane a straight lane onto Murieta parkway.  Seems like this would be a simple solution.  The current proposal, at first glance, sure seems riddled with unintended consequences.  

Where are the other proposals?  How many options have been considered.  Scary comment coming from Mr. Arthur about simply just wanting to get something done.  Excited to see this project get done (long overdue) but let's be sure to "do it right the first time."

Let's also be smart about making this look really nice and relatively easy to maintain (no watering the street for a 2 foot wide patch of grass that's dead half the time!).  I like the added look of pavers, etc to dress up the entrance to our beautiful community.  What about a nice fountain (again similar to the south gate).

My 2 cents.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Scott, as I pointed out in

Scott, as I pointed out in the earlier story's comments, the problem with the entirely sensible idea of moving the Shack to the right-hand curb is that neither RMA nor PTF owns the dirt on that side of the entrance.  We can only widen to the West, using some of that grassy area on THAT side which RMA DOES own.  If we added a lane on THAT side and shifted everything (lanes, median, shack) one lane West, we'd end up with an additional entrance lane, increasing queueing capacity by 50% at nominal cost.

Shelley Wright's picture
Joined: 10/14/2007
Posts: 110
Post rating: 78

North Gate

OK, add a lane on that opposite side...then you would have room to move the Gate house over to the right and have a visitor lane that goes straight only and 2 resident lanes, one left turn, one straight.  This would elimiminate that ridiculous U-turn that looks like a disaster in the making.  Problem here is you would have to move the traffic lights as well and that would be costly.


T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Purchase land?

OK, obvious solution is to add ingress lanes to separate visitors and members/residents, while moving gatehouse laterally to the South/right, to allow visitor business and parking there, while allowing residents lanes to the left for straightaway and mandatory Lago left turn. This would strongly resemble the South Gate excellent model. This requires lateral expansion of existing roadway, and if North/left, on land RMA already owns; or if South/right by land acquisition. Not much acquisition/purchase from that owner required; a small/short strip (maybe 1/2 acre out of the 16+ acres there) of that land purchased at existing low market rates, or does CSD have imminent domain powers to acquire a small strip for infrastructure/will serve/traffic safety purposes? In such negotiations, sound esthetic rebuild of the gate would also enhance that owner's larger property value for his future easement to his large remaining acreage. He's getting a free ride.

And where does MBA state developer gets control of siting plan for gate relocation against majority position of RMA members stated on many previous occassions? MBA says developer dictates design of gate only, after RMA's siting plan, and then contributes up to $1.4M. Why is this eleventh hour developer submitted objectionable siting plan even being entertained? Where's their architectural gate design, per the MBA, after RMA submitted our siting plan to them? Are they once again playing their usual games? Where's the money? They've certainly stiffed CSD on funding requirements. And don't confuse the Local Operating Engineers with the San Francisco  banker McMorgan which is the portfolio agent for all PTF's, including our Local Operating Engineers. And McMorgan's Land/Realty Division is who is to be dealt with.

Teresa Field's picture
Joined: 08/13/2007
Posts: 110
Post rating: 82

North Gate - Let's Get It Right

I agree with so many others.  This plan presented makes absolutely no sense.  It makes a mess out of traffic.  And we're either forcing visitors onto Lago when most everything in the North is found directly from the Parkway or we're creating a disaster for the middle lane.  I love the idea of moving everything left and having a set up like the south.  It makes so much more sense.  Have the two inside lanes for residents and the far right with booth for visitors.  Let's take our time and get it right. 

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